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" Balzac is perhaps the greatest name in the post-Revolutionary literature 
of France. His writings display a profound knowledge of the human heart, 
with extraordinary range of knowledge. . . . Balzac holds a more distinct 
and supreme place in French fiction than perhaps any English author does 
in the same field of art." Encyclopedia Britannica. 

" Messrs. Roberts Brothers are soon to bring out a series of translations 
of Balzac's novels, whose acknowledged cJiefs tfceuvres are superior to every- 
thing of their kind in English letters. The initial volume, which is ' Pere 
Goriot,' is now in the hands of the printers, and may soon be expected. It 
will be followed by another after a short interval, and this by others, provided 
the novel readers of America can be made to perceive the surpassing excel- 
lence of this great French master, who is to the novelists of the nineteenth 
century what Shakspeare was to the dramatists of the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, the incomparable author of Le Come'die Humaine. This 
translation of Balzac ought to succeed, and will succeed." Richard Henry 

" Balzac, though he paints human life perhaps too much in tints of fate 
that remind us of the Greek tragedians, is far deeper and more true to nature 
than George Sand or Rousseau. The teachings implied in his tales come 
home closer to the conscience and heart than do their essays and stories. 
There is in him more than Gallic blood. He is the greatest of novelists, 
unmatched in his guild or kind as a social philosopher, and unsurpassed in 
his literary style. As a romance-writer he has no peer as yet in the English 
tongue." Rev Dr. C. A. Bartol. 







Copyright, 1885, 



IN giving to a work, begun nearly thirteen years ago, the 
title of " The Comedy of Human Life," it is necessary that 
I should state its purpose, relate its origin, and give some 
explanation of its plan; endeavoring to do so as if I had no 
personal interest in the matter. This is not as difficult as the 
public might imagine. The writing of a few books makes a 
man self-sufficient; but much labor and hard toil bring hu- 
mility. This reflection explains the survey which Corneille, 
Moliere, and other great authors made of their writings. If 
it is impossible to equal them in the grandeur of their con- 
ceptions, at least we may share the spirit with which they 
examined them. 

The leading idea of this human comedy came to me at 
first like a dream; like one of those impossible visions which 
we try to clasp as they elude us; a smiling fancy showing for 
a moment a woman's face, as it spreads its wings and rises 
to the ideal heavens. But soon this vision, this chimera, 
changed, after the fashion of chimeras, into a living shape 
with compelling will and tyrannous power, to which I yielded 
myself up. The idea came from the study of human life in 
comparison with the life of animals. 

1 This preface, written forty-three years ago, is placed here to give 
Balzac's own interpretation of his books. Without it they will not be 
fully understood. His letters, published after his death, reveal in like 
manner the man himself, his wonderful method of work, and the sin- 
cerity of this preface. 


vi Preface. 

It is a mistake to suppose that the controversy which in 
these latter days has arisen between Cuvier and Geoffroy 
Saint-Hilaire rests upon a scientific innovation. Synthetic 
unity filled, under various definitions, the greatest minds of 
the two preceding centuries. In reading the strange books 
of those mystical writers who drew science into their concep- 
tions of the infinite, such as Swedenborg, Saint-Martin, 
and others; also the writings of the great naturalists, Leib- 
nitz, Buffon, Charles Bonnet, etc., we find in the monads of 
Leibnitz, in the organic molecules of Buffon, in the vegetative 
force of Needham, in the encasement of germs of Charles 
Bonnet, who was bold enough to write in 1760, " animal life 
vegetates like plant life," we find, I say, the rudiments of 
that strong law of self-preservation upon which rests the the- 
ory of synthetic unity. There is but one animal. The Cre- 
ator used one and the same principle for all organized being. 
An animal is an essence which takes external form, or, to 
speak more correctly, takes the differences of its form from 
the centres or conditions in which it comes to its develop- 
ment. All zoological species grow out of these differences. 
The announcement and pursuit of this theory, keeping it as 
he did in harmony with preconceived ideas of the Divine 
power, will be the lasting glory of Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, the 
conqueror of Cuvier in this particular branch of science, 
a fact recognized by the great Goethe in the last words which 
came from his pen. 

Filled with these ideas, I had perceived, long before this 
discussion arose, that Society in these respects is like Nature. 
Society makes the man; he develops according to the social 
centres in which he is placed: there are as many different 
men as there are species in zoology. The differences between 
a soldier, a workman, a governor, a lawyer, a man of leisure, a 
scholar, a statesman, a merchant, a sailor, a poet, a beggar, a 
priest, though more difficult to decipher, are at least as marked 
as those which separate the wolf, the lion, the ass, the crow, 

Preface. vii 

the shark, the seal, the lamb, etc. There have always been, 
and always will be, social species just as there are zoological 
species. If Bivffou achieved a great work when he put together 
in one book the whole scheme of zoology, is there not a work 
of the same kind to be done for Society,? Nature imposes 
upon the animal kingdom limitations which do not bind the 
social realm. When Buffon had described a lion, he could dis- 
miss the lioness with a word; but in the world of men, woman 
is far .from being the female of the male. Two species of man- 
kind may exist in one household: the wife of a shopkeeper 
is sometimes fit to be the wife of a prince; often the wife of 
a prince is unworthy to be the companion of the meanest 
laborer. ^ The Social kingdom has uncertainties and acci- 
dents which are not to be found in the natural world, for it 
is itself Nature plus Society.^ Any description of the social 
species, consequently, doubles all description of the animal 
species in the matter of the sexes alone. 

Moreover, among animals there is no drama, no current of 
events to excite and move them; the circumstances of their 
life are not confusing; they attack each other, and that is all. 
Men attack each other in like manner, but their greater or 
lesser intelligence renders the struggle far more complicated. 
If some scientific men do not yet admit that the animal world 
is transfused into the human world by the current of the 
original principle of life, it is at least certain that a grocer 
can become peer of France, and a noble may fall to the lowest 
social stratum. Further than this: Buffon found the life of 
animals extremely simple. They have no belongings, neither 
arts nor sciences; while man, by a law still unexplained, feels 
the need to set. the stamp of his habits, his thoughts, his be- 
ing, upon all that he collects to meet his wants. Though 
Leuwenhoec, Swammerdam, Spallanzani, Rdaumur, Charles 
Bonnet, Muller, Haller, and other patient zoologists proclaim 
the interest which attaches to the habits of animals, yet to 
our eyes at least they remain perpetually the same; whereas 

viii Preface. 

the habits clothing, methods of speech, the abodes of princes, 
bankers, artists, citizens, priests, and paupers, are all widely 
dissimilar, and change with the whims of civilization. 

For these reasons my ideal work took on a triple form, 
men, women, and things; that is to say, persons and the 
material representation which they gave to their being: in 
short, man and his life. 

In reading the dry and sapless dictionaries of facts which 
are called history, who does not feel that the writers .of all 
epochs Egyptian, Persian, Grecian, Roman have for- 
gotten to give us the vital history of manners and customs? 
That fragment of Petronius upon the private life of Rome 
provokes more curiosity than it satisfies. It was a sense of 
this enormous void in the history of the world that led the 
Abbe Barthelemy to spend his life in reproducing Grecian 
manners by his " Anacharsis." 

But how was it possible to bring within the compass of a 
reader's interest the three or four thousand personages who 
form Society? How could I satisfy at one and the same 
time the poets, the philosophers, and the multitude who must 
have their poetry and their philosophy presented to them 
under salient forms? However just my conception of the 
dignity and the poetry of this history of the human heart 
might be, I could see no way to put it into execution. Up 
to our own time all celebrated tellers of tales had spent 
their talent on creating two or three typical characters, or 
in painting some one limited aspect of human life. 

Thus thinking, I turned to the wurks of Walter Scott. 
Walter Scott, the troubadour of modern times, had then just 
placed the imprint of his wondrous method upon a species of 
composition hitherto unjustly rated as secondary. Is it not 
far more difficult to enter the lists against ordinary life with 
Daphne and Chloe, Roland, Amadis, Panurge, Don Quixote, 
Maiion Lescaut, Clarissa Harlowe, Lovelace, Robinson Crusoe, 
Gil Bias, Ossian, Julie d'Etanges, My Uncle Toby, Werther, 

Preface. ix 

Rene, Corinne, Paul and Virginia, Jeanie Deans, Claver- 
house, Ivanhoe, Manfred, Mignou, than to put in order his- 
torical facts which are much the same in all nations, or search 
out the meaning of laws long fallen into disuse; to revive for- 
gotten theories that once led nations astray, or explain, like 
certain metaphysicians, the secret of the things that be? In 
the first place, nearly all these characters, whose lives ar<" 
longer and far more vital than those of the generation in 
which they were born, live only so far as they are allied to 
the life of the present day. Conceived in the womb of their 
century, the human heart within them beats for all time, and 
holds in many instances the germ of a philosophy. Walter 
Scott raised to the philosophical value of history that form of 
literature which from age to age has starred with immortal 
gems the poetic crown of nations where letters and the arts 
are cultivated. He put into it the mind of the days of old; 
he brought together drama, dialogue, portraiture, description, 
scenery, the supernatural with the natural, two elements 
of hi.s epoch; and side by side with poesy and majesty he 
placed the familiarities of the humblest speech. Yet with all 
this he did not so much conceive a system, as find a method 
in the inspiration of his work, or in the logic of it; and thus 
he never dreamed of binding his compositions one to another 
as a complete history, of which each chapter should be a ro- 
mance, and each romance an epoch. 

In perceiving this lack of unity, which nevertheless does 
not render the great Scotchman less great, I came to see the 
system under which I ought to execute my idea, and also the 
possibility of executing it. Though dazzled, so to speak, by 
the amazing fecundity of Walter Scott, who is always in har- 
mony with himself and always original, I was not disheart- 
ened; for I knew that this faculty grew out of the infinite va- 
riety of human life. Chance is the great romance-maker of 
the ages : we have only to study it if we seek to be fertile in 

x Preface. 

Society as it exists in France was therefore to be the his- 
torian ; I was to be its secretary. lii drawing up the inven- 
tory of its virtues and its vices, in collecting the facts of its 
manifold passions, in picturing its characters, in choosing 
its leading events, in constructing types by putting together 
traits of homogeneous natures, I might perhaps attain to the 
writing of that history forgotten by historians, the history 
of manners and the ways of life. By the exercise of much 
patience and much courage I might hope to accomplish for 
France of the nineteenth century what Rome, Athens, Tyre, 
Memphis, Persia, India, had unhappily failed to bestow upon 
their civilizations, a work such as the patient and cour- 
ageous Monteil, following the example of the Abbe Barthe- 
lemy, had endeavored, but with little attraction, to accomplish 
for the Middle Ages. 

This, however, was not all. A writer who placed before 
his mind the duty of exact reproduction might become a 
painter of human types more or less faithful, successful, 
courageous, and patient; he might be the annalist of the 
dramas of private life, the archaeologist of the social fabric, 
the sponsor of trades and professions, the registrar of good 
and evil. And yet, to merit the applause at which all artists 
should aim, ought he not also to study the reasons or the 
reason of the conditions of social life; ought he not to seize 
the hidden meaning of this vast accretion of beings, of pas- 
sions, of events ? Finally, having sought I will not say 
found this reason, this social mainspring, was he not bound 
to study natural law, and discover why and when Society ap- 
proached or swerved away from the eternal principles of 
truth and beauty? Notwithstanding the range of these 
premises, which in themselves would fill a volume, the work 
in its entirety should be shown to have a final meaning. 
Thus depicted, Society might be made to wear upon its brow 
the reasons of its being. 
N The law of the writer, that which makes him a teacher 

Preface. xi 

of men; that which, I presume to say, renders him the equal 
and even the superior of the statesman, is to pass judg- 
ment upon human affairs with a single eye to their originat- 
ing causes. \\JMachiavelli, Hobbes, Bossuet, Leibnitz, Kant, 
Montesquieu, divulge the science which statesmen apply. 
" A writer should have fixed opinions in ethics and in 
politics ; he should regard himself as an instructor : and 
mankind does not need to be instructed how to doubt," 
said Bonald. I took these noble words early to heart as the 
rule of my work : they are the law of all monarchical writers. 
Therefore when my critics quote me against myself, it will be 
found that they have misunderstood some irony, or distorted 
to my injury some saying of my personages, a trick not 
uncommon among calumniators. As for the inward meaning, 
the soul of my work, the following principles are the founda- 
tion on which it rests: 

Man is neither good nor bad ; he is born with instincts and 
capacities. Society, far from depraving him, as Rousseau 
asserts, perfects and lifts him higher; but self-interest in- 
terposes, and develops his evil tendencies. Christianity, 
and especially Catholicism, being, as I have said in " The 
Country Doctor," a complete system for the repression of 
the selfish instincts of mankind, is the strongest element 
of the social order. 

If we study carefully a representation of Society moulded 
as it were upon the living form, with all its good and all its 
evil, we shall find that while thought, or rather passion, 
which is thought and feeling combined, is the social ele- 
ment and bond, it is also an element of destruction. In this 
respect the social life is like the physical life : races and men 
attain longevity only by the non-exhaustion of the vital force. 
Consequently instruction or, to speak more correctly, reli- 
gious education is the great principle of the life of Society, 
the only means of diminishing the total of evil and augment- 
ing the total of good in human life. Thought, the fountain 

xii Preface. 

of all good and of all evil, cannot be trained, mastered, and 
directed except by religion ; and the only possible religion is 
Christianity, which created the modern world and will pre- 
serve it. 1 From it sprang the need of the monarchical prin- 
ciple; in fact, Christianity and monarchy are twin principles. 
As to the limits within which both should be held and regu- 
lated lest they develop to their inherent conclusions, my 
readers will agree with me that this brief preface is not the 
place for such discussion. Neither can I enter upon the 
religious and political dissensions of the present day. I 
write by the light of two eternal truths, religion and mon- 
archy : two necessities proclaimed by contemporaneous events, 
and towards which every writer of sound judgment will en- 
deavor to bring back this nation. Though I am not an 
enemy to election, which is a sound principle in the consti- 
tution of law, I reject it when taken as the sole expression of 
the social will, and especially when organized as it is at this 
moment. The suffrage, if granted to all, will give us govern- 
ment by the masses, the only government that is irrespon- 
sible, and whose tyranny will be without check because 
exercised under the name of law. For myself, I regard the 
family and not the individual as the true essence of social 
life. In this respect, and at the risk of being thought retro- 
grade, I stand by Bossuet and Bonald, instead of advancing 
with modem innovators. 

There are persons to whom these remarks will seem arro- 
gant and presumptuous; they will quarrel with a novelist who 
assumes to be an historian, and ask why he thus promulgates 
his theories. My sole reply is, that I obey a sense of duty. 
The work I have undertaken will spread to the proportions 
of history, and it is due to my readers that I should state its 

1 See a letter written from Paris in " Louis Lambert," in which the 
mystical young philosopher shows, apropos of the doctrine of Swe- 
denborg, that there has been but one religion since the creation of the 

Preface. xiii 

purpose, hitherto unexplained, together with its principles 
and ethics. 

Having withdrawn various prefaces which were published 
in reply to criticisms essentially ephemeral, I shall here 
recall only one of the observations which I have heretofore 
made upon my books. 

Writers who have an end in view, be it even a return to 
the principles of the past for the reason that they contain 
truths which are eternal, should be careful to clear their way 
of all difficulties. Now, whoever attacks the realm of pre- 
conceived ideas, whoever points out an abuse, or sets a mark 
on evils that they may be checked and curtailed, is held, 
almost invariably, to be unprincipled.\ The reproach of 
immorality has never failed to pursue a courageous writer, 
and is often the only arrow in the quiver of those who can 
say nothing else against a poe" If a man is faithful in his 
portraiture; if, toiling night and day, he attains at last to a 
full expression of that life and language which of all others 
is the most difficult to render, the stigma of immorality 
is flung upon him. Thus Socrates was immoral; so was 
Christ : both were pursued in the name of that social order 
which they overthrew or reformed. When a man is to be 
destroyed, this charge is brought against him; but the trick, 
practised by partisans of all conditions, recoils with shame 
upon the heads of those who employ it. 

In copying the whole of Society, and in trying to seize its 
likeness from the midst of the seething struggle, it necessarily 
happens that more of evil than of good is shown. Thus 
gome portion of the fresco representing a guilty group excites 
the cry of immorality, while the critic fails to point out a 
corresponding part which was intended to show a moral con- 
trast. As such critics were ignorant of my general plan I 
readily pardon their mistake, for an author can no more 
hinder criticism than he can hinder the use of sight or hear- 
ing or language. Besides, the day of impartial judgment 

xiv Preface. 

has not yet dawned for me ; and I may add that the writer 
who cannot stand the fire of criticism is no more fit to start 
upon the career of authorship than a traveller is fit to under- 
take a journey if he is prepared only for fine weather. I 
shall merely remark, that although the most scrupulous mor- 
alists have doubted whether Society is able to show as much 
good as it shows evil, yet in the pictures which I have made 
of it virtuous characters outnumber the bad. Blameworthy 
conduct, faults, and crimes have invariably received their 
punishment, human or divine, startling or secret. In this 
I have done better than the historian, for I have been free to 
do so. Cromwell here below received no other chastisement 
than that inflicted by the thoughts of men ; and even those 
were vacillating, for Bossuet himself dealt charitably with 
the great regicide. William of Orange the usurper, and 
Hugh Capet that other usurper, died full of days, without 
more to suffer or to fear than Henry IV. or Charles I. The 
lives of Catherine of Russia and Frederick the Great were at 
war with every species of morality, even if judged from the 
double point of view of the virtue which regulates men at 
large, and of that other virtue reserved for crowned heads, 
which claims, with Napoleon, that for kings and statesmen 
there are two moralities, a greater and a lesser. My 
" Scenes from Political Life " are based on this reflection. 
History does not, like the novel, hold up the law of a higher 
ideal. History is, or should be, the world as it has been ; the 
novel to use a saying of Madame Necker, one of the remark- 
able minds of the last century should paint a possible better 

Yet even so, the novel would be worth little if it pictured 
only such august fiction, and failed in truth of detail. 
Here it is that Walter Scott, forced to conform to the ideas 
of a public essentially hypocritical, was false to humanity in 
his delineation of women : he drew them from the point of 
view of a schismatic. The woman of Protestant nations is 

Preface. xv 

without ideal. She is chaste, pure, virtuous; but her love, 
without flow of thought or emotion, remains calm, like a 
duty fulfilled. It would seem as if the loss of the Virgin 
Mary had chilled the hearts of the sophists who banished her 
from heaven, with all her treasures of mercy and of pity. 
Under the Protestant system there is nothing left for a wo- 
man who has once fallen ; but in the Catholic Church the 
hope of pardon still ennobles her life. Thus there is but 
one woman for the Protestant writer, while for the Catholic 
there is an ever new woman in all her varying situations. 
If Walter Scott had been a Catholic, and if he had placed 
before his mind the task of describing truthfully those phases 
of Society through which Scotland has passed, perhaps the 
painter of Effie and Alice (two characters which in his latter 
days he reproached himself for having drawn) would have 
admitted into his work the history of passions, with their 
faults, their punishments, and the virtues which repentance 
brings. Passion is humanity; without it religion, history, 
romance, art, would not exist.^ 

In seeing me collect this mass of facts and paint them as 
they are, in their element of passionate emotion, some per- 
sons have imagined, very erroneously, that I belong to the 
school of materialists and sensualists, two aspects of Pan- 
theism. They are mistaken. I put no faith in any indefi- 
nite advancement of Society; I believe in the progress and 
development of the individual man. Those who find in me 
a disposition to look on man as a completed being are 
strangely deceived. " Seraphita," which gives what I may 
call the doctrine of the Christian Buddha, is my answer to 
this accusation. 

In certain parts of my long work I have tried to popularize 
those amazing facts, those prodigies of electricity, which pro- 
duce within a man some unexplained magnetic power. But 
how, let me ask, can any such phenomena of the brain and 
nerves, even though they denote the existence of a new moral 

xvi Preface. 

world, affect or change the known and necessary relations 
between mankind and God? In what way can they shake 
Catholic dogma? If incontestable facts hereafter prove that 
thought must be classed among the fluids which are known 
only by their effects, and of which the substance escapes our 
human perceptions, aided though they be by all mechanical 
facilities, still this would be no more amazing than the cir- 
cumference of the globe perceived by Columbus, or its rota- 
tory motion revealed through Galileo. Our future will remain 
the same. Animal magnetism, with whose miracles I have 
been familiar since 1820; the phrenological researches of 
Gall, successor to Lavater; in fact the works of all those who 
for fifty years have studied thought as opticians have studied 
light, two things not dissimilar, give evidence both for 
the mystics and the disciples of St. John the Apostle, and also 
for those great thinkers who have endeavored to think out a 
spiritual world, a new sphere, in which shall be revealed the 
relations between man and God. 

If the meaning of my work is understood, my readers will 
see that I give to the recurring events of daily life, secret or 
manifest, and to the actions of individuals, with their hid- 
den springs and motives, as much importance as the historian 
bestows on the public life of a nation. The obscure battle 
fought in the valley of the Indre between Madame de Mort- 
sauf and her temptation ("The Lily in the Valley") was 
perhaps as great a struggle as the most illustrious combat 
ever related in history. In the latter, fame was the conquer- 
or's guerdon; in hers, the peace of heaven. The misfortunes 
of the Birotteaus, the priest and the perfumer, are to me the 
woes of humanity. La Fosseuse in " The Country Doctor," 
and Madame Graslin in " The Village Curate," reveal nearly 
the whole of woman's life. We suffer day by day all that 
these people suffered. I have had to do a hundred times 
what Richardson did once. Lovelace presents himself under 
a thousand shapes, for social corruption takes the color of 

Preface. xvii 

the centres in which it develops. On the other hand Clarissa, 
that lovely image of passionate virtue, has lines of purity that 
fill me with despair. To create many virgins one needs to be 
a Raphael, for literature in this respect falls below art. Nev- 
ertheless, I here call my readers' attention to the large num- 
ber of virtuous and irreproachable characters which may be 
found in my works, Pierrette Lorrain, Ursule Mirouet, 
Constance Birotteau, La Fosseuse, Eugenie Grandet, Mar- 
guerite Claes, Pauline de Villerioix, Madame Jules, Madame 
de la Chanterie, Eve Chardon, Mademoiselle d'Esgrignon, 
Madame Firmiani, Agathe Rouget, Reuee de Maucombe; 
together with many characters on the second plane, which, 
though less important to the story, keep before the reader's 
mind the simple practical virtues of domestic life, such 
for instance as Joseph Lebas, Genestas, Benassis, the curate 
Bonnet, the doctor Minoret, Pillerault, David Sechard, the 
two Birotteaus, the curate Chaperon, the judge Popinot, 
Bourgeat, Sanviat, the Tascherons, and many others; have 
they not solved the difficult literary problem of making virtue 

It has been no light task to paint the three or four thou- 
sand salient figures of an epoch, for that is about the num- 
ber of types presented by the generation of which this human 
comedy is the contemporary and the exponent. This number 
of figures, of characters, this multitude of portraits needed 
frames, permit me even to say galleries. Out of this neces- 
sity grew the classification of my work into Scenes, scenes 
from private, provincial, Parisian, political, military, and coun- 
try life. Under these heads I have classed all those studies 
of manners and morals which form the general history of 
Society and of its " conduct of life and noble deeds " (faits 
et gestes), to use the language of our ancestors. These six 
divisions follow a general idea ; each has its meaning and 
signification, and represents a distinct phase in human life. 
The " Scenes from private life " are those of childhood and of 

xviii Preface. 

youth, just as the " Scenes from provincial life " represent the 
age of passions, calculations, self-interest, and ambition. 
The " Scenes from Parisian life " draw the picture of tastes, 
fashions, sentiments, vices, and all those unbridled extrava- 
gances excited by the life of great cities, where meet together 
the extremes of good and the extremes of evil. Each of 
these three divisions has its local color. Paris and the pro- 
vinces that social antithesis furnished the data. Not 
only men but events may be formulated by types ; and there 
are situations in the lives of all, typical phases, which I have 
sought out and studied carefully. I have also tried to give 
an idea of the different regions of our beautiful land. My 
work thus has its geography as it has its genealogy, its fami- 
lies, its centres, persons, actions; its armorial history, its 
nobles, artisans, citizens, peasants; its politics, its men of 
fashion, its army, in short, its world of men and things. 

After drawing these three sections of Society, I wished to 
show certain other phases of life which unite the interests 
of some or of all, and yet are partly aloof from the common 
order. Out of this desire came the " Scenes from political 
life," also the " Scenes from military life; " in the latter I 
have sought to show Society in convulsion, carried out of itself 
either for conquest or for defence. Finally, the " Scenes 
from country life" are, as it were, the evening of my long 
day's-work, if I may so call this social drama. In this 
division will be found my purest characters; also the appli- 
cation of the great principles of order, of patriotism, and of 

Such is the structure, teeming with life, full of comedy 
and of tragedy, on which I base the " Philosophical Studies " 
which form the second part of my work. In these I have 
shown the keynote of that vast assemblage of all that strikes 
the eye, that captivates the mind or touches the heart; I 
have shown the havoc that has followed thought, step by 

Preface. xix 

step, from emotion to emotion. The first of these volumes, 
" The Shagreen Skin," unites the philosophical study to a 
picture of manners and morals by means of a fantasy, partly 
Oriental, which shows the principle of life itself in a struggle 
with the principle of all passion. 

Above these again will be found the " Analytical Studies," 
of which I shall say nothing, as only one of them has been 
published. Later, I hope to give other works of the same 
class, the "Pathology of Social life," the "Anatomy of 
Educating bodies," the " Monograph of Virtue," etc. 

Looking at the work still to be done, perhaps my readers 
will join my publishers in saying, " May your life be pro- 
longed! " My own prayer is that I may not be so tortured 
by men and events as I have been in the past, since the be- 
ginning of my great and terrible labor. Yet I have had one 
support, for which I return thanks to God. The highest 
talent of our day, the noblest characters, the truest friends, 
have clasped my hand and said to me, "Take courage!" 
Why should I not own that such proofs of affection, such 
testimonials given now and then by strangers, have upheld 
me in my career in spite of myself, in spite of unjust attacks, 
in spite of calumnies that have pursued me, upheld me 
against dishearten ment, and also against that too-vivid hope, 
the expression of which has been mistaken for excessive 

The extent of a plan which embraces both the history and 
the criticism of Society, which analyzes its evils and lays 
bare its hidden springs, justifies me, I think, in giving to my 
work the title under which it now appears, " The Comedy 
of Human Life." Is it ambitious ? Is it not just and legiti- 
mate ? The public, when my work is done, will decide. 

PARIS, July, 1842. 



MADAME VATJQUER, nee de Conflans, is an old lady 
who for forty years has kept a second-class boarding- 
house in Paris, a pension bouryeoise, in the Rue 
Neuve Sainte-Genevieve, between the Latin quarter 
and the faubourg Saint-Marceau. This pension, known 
as the Maison Vauquer, is for both sexes and all ages; 
and up to the time of which we write, scandal had 
found nothing to say against the manners or the morals 
of so respectable an establishment. It must be admit- 
ted, however, that for more than thirty years no young 
woman had ever lived in the house, and it is certain that 
any young man who may have done so received but a 
slender allowance from his family. Nevertheless, in 
1819, the date of the opening of this drama, we shall 
find a poor young girl living there. 

Though the word drama has been recklessly ill-used 
and misapplied in our degenerate modern literature, 
it is necessary to employ it here ; not that this story is 
dramatic in the true sense of the word, but that when 
it ends some reader may perchance have dropped a 

2 Pere Goriot. 

tear intra muros et extra. "Will it be comprehended 
beyond the walls of Paris ? I doubt it. Its minute 
points of personal observation and local color can be 
caught only by the inhabitants of that valley which lies 
between the hills of Montinartre and the higher ele- 
vations of Montrouge, a valley full of plastered archi- 
tecture crumbling to swift decay, its gutters black with 
foulest mud ; a valley teeming with sufferings cruelly 
real, and with joys often as cruelly false ; a place so 
full of terrible agitation that only some abnormal event 
occurring there can give rise to more than a passing 
sensation. And yet, here and there, even in Paris, we 
encounter griefs to which attendant circumstances of 
vice or virtue lend a solemn dignity. In their presence 
self and self-interest pause, checked by a momentary 
pity. But the impression made is like that of a tooth- 
some fruit, forgotten as soon as eaten. xN The car of 
civilization, like that of Juggernaut, is hardly stayed a 
moment by the resistance of some heart less easily 
ground to atoms than its fellows : the wheels roll on, 
the heart is crushed, the car advances on its glorious 
way.^ You will do the same, you my reader, now 
holding this book in your white hand, and saying to 
yourself in the depths of your easy-chair : " I wonder 
if it will amuse me ! " When you have read the sorrows 
of Pi-re Goriot you will lay the book aside and eat your 
dinner with an appetite, and excuse your own callous- 
ness by taxing the author with exaggeration and poetic 
license. Ah ! believe me, this drama is no fiction, no 
romance. All is true, so true that you may recog- 
nize its elements in your experience, and even find its 
seeds within your own soul. 

Pere G-oriot. 3 

The house in which the pension is carried on belongs 
to Madame Vauquer. It is situated at the lower end 
of the Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve, where the ground 
slopes towai-d the Rue Arbalete so steeply and abruptly 
that horses rarely come up or down. This contributes 
to the silence Avhich reigns in the nest of little streets 
crowded together between the dome of the Val-de- 
Grace and that of the Pantheon, two buildings which 
change the very color of the atmosphere in their neigh- 
borhood, throwing into it a yellow tone, and darken- 
ing all by the shadows flung from their cupolas. The 
pavements of these streets are dry, unless it rains ; the 
guttei's are free from mud and water ; grass grows in 
tufts along the walls. The most light-hearted of men 
catches something as he passes of the common sadness 
of a place where the houses resemble prisons and the 
roll of a carriage is an event. A Parisian, w r andering 
into it by chance, will find there only these gray pen- 
sions and charitable institutions, sombre with the gloom 
of poverty and ennui, the gloom of old age slowly 
passing through the shadow of death ; of youth, whose 
youthfulness is crushed out of it by the necessities of 

No part of Paris is so depressing, nor, we may add. 
so little known. The Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve, 
above all, may be likened to an iron frame, the only 
frame fit to hold the coming narrative, to which the 
reader's mind must be led by sombre colors and sol- 
emn thoughts; just as, step by step, when the traveller 
descends into the catacombs, the light fades and the 
song of the guide is hushed. An apt comparison ! 
Who shall say which is the more awful, to watch 

4 Pere Goriot. 

the withering of a living heart, or to gaze upon the 
mouldering of skulls and bones? 

The front of Madame Vauquer's house looks out 
upon a tiny garden, so that the building runs at right 
angles from the Rue Xeuve Sainte-Genevieve at its 
steepest part. Along this front, between the house 
and garden, is a gutter-like piece of paved work six 
feet wide ; in front of this runs a gravel walk bordered 
by geraniums, lauristinus, and pomegranates growing 
in large vases of blue and white pottery. The street 
gate opens on this path^ and is surmounted by the 
inscription, " Maison Vauquer," in large letters : under- 
neath appears, " Pension Bourgeoise for both sexes, and 
others." During the day this gate, with an open iron 
lattice, fitted also with a shrill bell, permits those who 
pass the house to look into the garden. There, at 
the end of the pavement and opposite to the street, 
the wall has been painted by some artist of the neigh- 
borhood to resemble an alcove of green marble. Be- 
fore this fictitious depression of the wall is a statue 
of Cupid ; a half-effaced inscription on the pedestal 
indicating that the age of this ornament is coeval with 
the popular enthusiasm for Voltaire on his return to 
Paris in 1778 : 

Whoe'er thou art, thy master see ! 
He is, he was, or he will be. 1 

At dusk this gate with its barred openings gives 
place to a stout wooden door. The garden, wide as 
the facade of the house, is inclosed by the street wall 

1 Qui que tu sois, void ton maitre ! 
II Test, le f ut, ou le doit etre. 

Pere Groriot. 5 

and by the wall which divides it from the garden of 
the next house. From these fall a drapery of ivy 
which conceals them, and which attracts attention by 
a picturesque effect not common in a city. On both 
walls fruit-trees have been trained and grape-vines, 
whose sickly, dusty products are every year the objects 
of Madame Vauquer's solicitude, and afford a topic of 
convei'sation between herself and her guests. Under 
each wall runs a narrow path leading to a spot shaded 
by lindens, tilleuls. The word tilleuls Madame Vau- 
quer, though presumably of good family, being nee de 
Conflans, persists in pronouncing tieuilles, although 
she has often been corrected for it by her more 
grammatical Parisians. Between these paths is a bed 
of artichokes, flanked by a row of fruit-trees trained 
as standards ; and the whole is bordered by pot- 
herbs, sorrel, lettuce, and parsley. Under the lindens 
stands a round table, painted green and surrounded by 
benches. Here, during the dog-days, those guests who 
can afford to take coffee come forth to enjoy it in heat 
sufficient to hatch out a brood of chickens. 

The house is of three storeys, with attic chambers. 
It is built of rough blocks of stone, plastered with the 
yellow wash that gives so contemptible a character to 
half the houses of Paris. The five windows of each 
storey of the facade have small panes and are pro- 
vided with green blinds, none of which correspond in 
height, giving to the outside of the house an aspect of 
uncomfortable irregularity. At the narrow or street 
end, the house has two windows on each storey; those 
on the ground-floor have no blinds, and are protected 
by iron gratings. Behind the house is a court-yard 

6 Pere Groriot. 

twenty feet square, where dwells a " happy family " of 
pigs, rabbits, and fowls. At the far end is a wood-shed. 
Between this shed and the kitchen window the meat- 
safe is hung up directly over the spot where the greasy 
water from the sink runs into the ground. The court 
has a small door opening on the Rue Neuve Sainte- 
Genevieve, through which the cook sweeps the garbage 
of the house into the street gutters when she washes 
out the drain with great sluicings of water, a needful 
precaution against pestilence. 

The ground-floor, necessarily the part of the house 
where the affairs of such an establishment are carried 
on, consists, first, of a parlor lighted by two windows 
looking upon the street, which is entered through a 
glass door. This, the common sitting-room, leads into 
the dining-room, which is separated from the kitchen 
by the well of the staircase, the steps of which are of 
wood, laid in squares and polished. Nothing can be 
more dismal than this sitting-room, furnished with 
chairs and armchairs covered with a species of striped 
horsehair. In the centre stands a round table with a 
marble top, and upon it one of those white porcelain 
tea-sets with gilt edges half effaced, which now-a-days 
may be seen everywhere. The room has a shabby 
ceiling, and is wainscoted a third of the way up ; the 
rest of the wall being covered by varnished paper rep- 
resenting the ad\ entures of Telemachus, the princi- 
pal classic personages being clad in color. The space 
between the barred windows offers to the guests at 
Madame Vauquer's table a view of the feast prepared 
by Calypso for the son of Ulysses. For forty years this 
feast has served the younger members of the household 

Pcre G-oriot. 1 

with a theme for jests, and enables them to feel supe- 
rior to their position by making fun of the wretched 
fare to which for lack of means they are condemned. 
The mantel is of marble, and the hearth, always clean, 
gives evidence that a fire is never kindled there except 
on great occasions. The mantel-shelf is adorned by 
two vases, filled with old and faded artificial flowers 
under glass cases, which flank a clock of blueish marble 
of the worst taste. This room is pervaded by a smell 
for which there is no name in any language. We must 
cull it an odsur de pension, I'odeur du renferme, 
the odor of the shut-in. It suggests used air, rancid 
grease, and mildew. It strikes a chill as of malaria to 
the bones ; it penetrates the clothes with fetid moisture ; 
it tastes in the mouth like the stale fumes of a dinner ; 
it fills the nostrils with the mingled odors of a scullery 
and a hospital. Possibly it might be described if we 
could invent a process for analyzing the nauseous ca- 
tarrh al elements thrown off by the physical conditions 
and idiosyncrasies of a long procession of inmates, 
young and old. And yet, in spite of these horrors, 
compare the salon with the dining-room, and you will 
end by thinking it as elegant and as fragrant as a lady's 

The dining-room, with panelled walls, was once 
painted of a color no longer discernible, which now 
forms a background on which layers of dirt, more or 
less thick, have made a variety of curious patterns. 
The room is surrounded by shelves serving as side- 
boards, upon which stand chipped water-bottles, cloudy 
and dim, round mats of zinc metal, and piles of plates 
made of thick stone-ware with blue edges, from the 

8 Pere G-oriot. 

manufactory at Tournai. In one corner is a box with 
pigeon-holes, in which are placed, according to number, 
the wine-stained and greasy napkins of the various 
guests. The whole room is a depository of worthless 
furniture, rejected elsewhere and gathered here, as the 
battered relics of humanity are gathered in hospitals 
for the incurable. Here may be seen a barometer with 
a hooded monk, who steps out when it rains; exe- 
crable engravings that turn the stomach, framed in 
varnished black wood with a thread of gilding; a 
clock-case of tortoise-shell inlaid with copper; a green 
porcelain stove; lamps with dust floating on the oil; a 
long table covered with oilcloth, so greasy that a face- 
tious guest has been seen to scratch his name upon it 
with his finger-nail ; wretched little mats made of 
broom-straw, slipping from the feet yet always in the 
way ; dilapidated foot-warmers, with their internal ar- 
rangements so worn out that the wood is beginning to 
be charred. To describe how old, how ragged, rotten, 
rusty, moth-eaten, maimed, shabby, and infirm these 
remnants are would delay too long the current of this 
story, and readers in haste to follow it might complain. 
The red-tiled floor is uneven, worn in places either 
by hard rubbing or by the crumbling action of the 
color. In a word, here is poverty without relieving 
sentiment; hard, bitter, rasping poverty. If filth is 
not yet seen, foul stains are there; rags and tatters 
may not appear, but rottenness has eaten into warp 
and woof with a sure decay. 

The room appears in full perfection when at seven 
o'clock in the morning Madame Vauquer's tom-cat 
walks in, preceding the arrival of his mistress. He 

Pere Goriot. 9 

jumps upon the sideboard, sniffs at the bowls of milk, 
each covered by a plate, and purrs his matinal content- 
ment. The widow follows in a tulle cap and front of 
false hair set on awry, her slippers flapping as she 
walks slip-shod across the room. Her faded and flabby 
cheeks, from which projects a nose like the beak of a 
parrot, her fat hands and plump person, with its bust 
too plump and undulating visibly, are all in keeping 
with that room, where misfortune oozes from the very 
walls, and greed crouches in the corners, and whose 
fetid air its owner breathes without sickening. Her 
face, chilling as the first frosts of autumn, her eyes and 
wrinkled brows changing in expression from the hollow 
smile of an actress to the grasping frown of a money- 
lender, all express the character of her pension, just 
as the pension itself implies its mistress. The pasty 
plumpness of this woman is the unwholesome out-come 
of her life, as pysmia is the product of the exhalations 
of a hospital. Her knitted worsted skirt drops below 
a petticoat made out of an old gown, of which the wad- 
ding shows through gaps in the worn covering : it 
sums up to the eye the salon, the dining-room, and the 
tiny garden, and gives an inkling of the cookery and 
the character of the guests. 

About fifty years of age at the time of which we 
write, Madame Vauquer looked as women commonly 
look who tell you they have seen better days. Her 
eyes were light and glassy, and could take on the inno- 
cent expression of one who would serve an evil pur- 
pose and make her innocence raise the price of it ; a 
woman who, to better her own condition, would betray 
Georges or Pichegru, if Georges and Pichegru still had 

10 Pere Goriot. 

a market value. And yet, "after all, she is a good 
creature" is the set phrase with which her lodgers 
speak of her ; for, as she goes moaning and coughing 
about the house, they take her to be as poor as they 
are themselves. But how about Monsieur Vauquer? 
Madame has never given any information concerning 
her late husband. How did he lose his fortune ? By 
reverses, she implies. He had not been a good hus- 
band; he had left her nothing but her eyes to weep 
with and this house to live in, and the privilege of hav- 
ing no pity to give to others, because, so she said, she 
had already suffered as much as it was possible for her 
to bear. 

When Sylvie, the fat cook, hears her mistress in the 
dining-room, she knows that it is time to serve up 
breakfast to those lodgers who are inmates of the 
house. The table guests usually come only for dinner, 
which costs them thirty francs a month. When this 
story opens, there are but seven lodgers. The first floor, 
that is, the floor up one flight of stairs, contained 
the two best suites of rooms. Madame Vauquer lived 
in the smaller of these; the other was occupied by 
Madame Couture, widow of a paymaster in the army 
under the French Republic. Living with her was a 
young girl named Victorine Taillefer, whom she treated 
as a daughter : the board of these ladies amounted to 
eighteen hundred francs a year. The two suites on 
the second floor were taken, one by an old gentleman 
named Poiret ; the other by a man of forty, who wore 
a black wig, dyed his whiskers, said he was in business, 
and called himself Monsieur Vautrin. The third storey 
was divided into four single rooms, of which one was 

Pere G-oriot. 11 

occupied by an old maid named Mademoiselle Michon- 
neau; and anotlier by an aged manufacturer of vermi- 
celli and other Italian pastes, who allowed himself to 
be called Pere Goriot. 1 The two remaining chambers 
were kept for birds of passage, who, like Pere Goriot 
and Mademoiselle Michonnean, could only afford to 
pay forty-five francs a month for board and lodging. 
But Madame Vauquer was not desirous of such guests, 
and only took them when she could do no better ; for, 
to tell the truth, their appetites made them unprofit- 
able. At this time one of these rooms was occupied 
by a young man who had come to Paris to study law 
from the neighborhood of Angoulerne, where his family 
were practising the strictest economy to provide him 
with the twelve hundred francs a year which enabled 
him to live. 

Eugene de Rastignac such was his name was 
one of that targe class of young men taught to work by 
sheer necessity ; men who understand from infancy 
the hopes their parents place upon them, and who pre- 
pare for success in life by directing all their studies to 
fit them to take advantage of the future set of the cur- 
rent, and thus be among the first to profit by any on- 
ward movement of society. Unless we were aided by 
this young man's powers of observation, and by the 
address which enabled him to make his way in the 
great world, this story could not have been colored to 
the life, as we now hope it mav be, owing to his sagacity 
and his perseverance in penetrating the mysteries of a 

1 Pere (pronounced like the fruit, pear ; Pear Gorio, the t 
not sounded), used in this manner, implies "Old Goriot," rather 
than its exact meaning, "father." 

12 Pere Goriot. 

terrible situation, mysteries carefully concealed both 
by those who created them, and by him who was their 

Above the third storey was a loft where clothes were 
dried, and two attic rooms, in one of which slept a man 
of all work named Christophe, and in the other Sylvie, 
the fat cook. Besides her regular house-lodgers, 
Madame Vauquer usually had, one year with another, 
about eight students of law and medicine, and two or 
three habitues of the neighborhood, all of whom came 
to dinner only. The dining-room could seat eighteen 
persons comfortably, and squeeze in twenty. In the 
mornings, however, there were but seven to breakfast, 
a circumstance which made that meal seem a family 
affair. Every one came down in slippers, confidential 
observations were exchanged concerning the dress and 
manners of the dinner guests, and comments were made 
on the events of the previous evening with all the free- 
dom of intimacy. The seven lodgers were supposed 
to be in especial favor with Madame Vauquer, who 
meted out to them with the precision of an astronomer 
their just dues of care and consideration, based on the 
arithmetic of their board-bills. The same standard 
governed the intercourse of the guests with each other, 
although mere chance, poor waifs, had thrown them 
here together. 

The two lodgers on the second floor paid seventy- 
two francs a month. This extremely cheap board, 
which could have been found only in the Faubourg 
Saint-Marcel, betAveen La Bourbe and the Salpetriere, 
and to which Madame Couture made the sole excep- 
tion, gave sufficient proof that every inhabitant of that 

Pere Goriot. 13 

house was weighted with the cares of poverty. In fact, 
the wretchedness of the whole place was reflected in 
the shabby dress of its inmates. All the men wore 
frock-coats of an uncertain color, frayed linen, thread- 
bare trousers, and boots or shoes which would have 
been flung away in the more prosperous parts of the 
city. The gowns of the women were shabby, dyed, 
and faded, their lace darned, their gloves shiny from 
long service, their collars soiled, and t\\c\v fichus frayed 
at the edges. Such were the clothes they wore, and 
yet the wearers themselves looked sound ; their consti- 
tutions appeared to have resisted the storms of life ; 
their cold, hard, washed-out countenances resembled 
the effigy on a well-worn silver coin ; their withered 
lips covered teeth still keen. They gave the impres- 
sion of having had, or having still, a share in some life- 
drama; not a drama acted before the foot-lights amid 
painted scenery, but a drama of life itself, dumb, icy, 
yet living, and acted with throbbing hearts, a drama 
going on, and on, without conclusion. 

Mademoiselle Michonneau was in the habit of wear- 
ing a dingy green-silk shade over her weak eyes, a 
shade stiffened by a wire rim, which must have scared 
the very Angel of Pity. Her shawl, with its melan- 
choly mangy fringes, seemed wrapped about a skeleton. 
What drop of acid in her cup of life had deprived this 
forlorn creature of all feminine lines of grace? She 
must have had them once. Plad she lost them through 
her faults, her sorrows, her cupidity ? Had she once 
loved, not wisely ? Was she expiating the insolent 
triumphs of her youth by a despised old age? Her 
blank gaze chilled you ; her sapless features made you 

14 Pere Croriot. 

shudder ; her voice was like that of a cricket in the 
bushes, lamenting shrilly the approach of winter. She 
said that she had once taken care of an old gentleman 
afflicted with' an incurable disease, who had been cast 
off by his children under the belief that he had no 
property. The old man, however, had saved money, 
and left her an annuity of a thousand francs, which 
his heirs-at-law disputed at every payment, reviving 
scandals of which she was the object. Though the 
play of passions had seared her face, she retained some 
slight traces of past beauty, and also a certain delicacy 
of complexion which allowed it to be supposed that her 
form still kept a fragment of its charm. 

Monsieur Poiret was a species of automaton. Had 
you seen him flitting like a gray ghost through the 
alleys of the Jardin des Plantes, a shapeless cap on 
his head, his cane with its discolored ivory knob 
dangling from his limp hand, his faded coat flying 
loose, disclosing to view breeches which seemed well- 
nigh empty, lank legs in blue stockings which quav- 
ered like those of a drunkard, a dirty white waistcoat, 
and a crumpled shirl-front of coarse cotton which 
barely met the old cravat twisted about a neck as long 
and wrinkled as a turkey's, you might indeed have 
asked if this spectral figure could belong to the gay 
race of those sons of Japhet who sunned themselves 
like butterflies on the Boulevard des Italiens. What 
occupation in life could have shrunk the makings of a 
man to this? What passions had blotched that bul- 
bous face which caricature itself could not exaggerate ? 
What had he been ? Well, possibly a clerk of the De- 
partment of Justice, in that office where they keep 

Pere Goriot. 15 

the record of moneys spent on the black veils of par- 
ricides, or bran for the baskets of the guillotine, and 
count the cost of pack-thread to hold the blades in 
place. Could he have been the receiver of beasts at a 
slaughterhouse; or a sub-inspector of public health and 
sewers ? Whatever his occupation, he was surely one 
of the asses which are used to turn the mill of our sys- 
tem of civilization ; a pivot round which had once re- 
volved the misfortunes and impurities of society; a 
being of whom we say, in vulgar formula, "It takes all 
sorts to make a world." Gay Paris has no eye for faces 
pale through physical or moral wretchedness. But 
Paris is an ocean ; heave your lead, and you will never 
find the bottom. Fathom it, describe it, yet how- 
ever carefully you search, however minutely you de- 
scribe, however numerous may be your explorations, 
there will remain some virgin region, some unsuspected 
cavern in the depths, where flowers or pearls or hid- 
eous sea-monsters still lie safe, undiscovered by the 
divers of literature. The Maison Vauquer is one of 
these hidden monsters. 

Two figures stand out in striking contrast to the 
rest of the household. Though Mademoiselle Victor- 
ine Taillefer was of a sickly paleness like a girl in 
feeble health, and though this paleness, joined to an 
habitual expression of sadness and self-restraint, linked 
her with the general misery which formed the back- 
ground of the life about her, yet her face was not an 
old face, and her movements and her voice were young 
and sprightly. She seemed like a sickly shrub trans- 
planted into uncongenial soil. Her fair complexion, 
her auburn hair, her too-slender figure, gave her the 

16 Pere Goriot. 

grace which modern critics find in the art of the Mid- 
dle Ages. Her eyes, which were gray with a radiation 
of dark streaks, expressed the sweetness and resigna- 
tion of a Christian. Her dress was simple and cheap, 
but it revealed a youthful shape. She was pretty by 
juxtaposition. Had she been happy she might have 
been lovely ; for happiness lends poetic charm to 
women, and dress adorns them like a delicate tinge of 
rouge. If the pleasures of a ball had called out the 
rose-tints on her pallid face; if the comforts and elegan- 
cies of life had filled out and remodelled her cheeks, 
already, alas ! too hollow ; if love had ever brightened 
her sad eyes, then Victorine might have held her own 
among the fairest of her sex and age. She needed 
two things, two things which are the second birth of 
women, the pretty trifles of her sex, and the shy 
delight of love-letters. The poor girl's story told at 
length would fill a volume. Her father believed that 
he had reasons for not acknowledging her ; he refused 
to let her live with him, and only gave her six hundred 
francs a year for her support ; moreover he had arranged 
to leave his fortune wholly to his son. Madame Couture 
was a distant relative of Victorine's mother, who had 
died of sorrow in her arms ; and she had brought up 
the little orphan as her own. Unfortunately, the 
widow of a paymaster in the army of the French 
Republic had nothing but her dower and her pension. 
The time might come when she would have to leave 
the poor girl, without money or experience, to the 
tender mercies of a cruel world. The good woman 
took Victorine to mass every Sunday, and to confession 
twice a month, hoping to prepare her for the chances 

Pere Goriot. 17 

of her fate by making her a pious woman. She was 
right ; this cast-off daughter might come to find in her 
religion a refuge and a home. Meantime poor Victor- 
ine loved her lather, and once a year she went to his 
house to assure him of the dying forgiveness ^>f her 
mother. In vain she knocked at that closed door ; it 
was inexorably shut. Pier brother, who alone could 
have interceded in her behalf, neglected her, and gave 
her neither sympathy nor succor. She prayed to 
God to enlighten the eyes of her father and to soften 
the heart of her brother ; but her prayers conveyed 
no reproach. When Madame Couture and Madame 
Vauquer strove for words to characterize this barbar- 
ous conduct, and loaded the millionaire with abuse, 
Victorine interposed her gentle remonstrance like the 
cry of the wounded wood-pigeon, whose note of suffer- 
ing is still the note of love. 

Eugene de Rastignac had a face altogether of the 
sunny south, a pure skin, black hair, and blue eyes. 
His bearing, his manners, his habitual attitudes, marked 
him as belonging to a good family, where his earliest 
training must have been in accordance with the tradi- 
tions of high birth. If ordinarily he was careful of his 
clothes, wearing on working-days coats of a past fashion, 
he always dressed with care and elegance when he 
went into the world. At other times he appeared 
in an old frock-coat, an old waistcoat, a shabby black 
cravat tied in a wisp after the manner of students, 
trousers out of shape, and boots resoled. 

Between these two young people and the rest of the 
household Vautrin the man of forty, with dyed whis- 
kers formed a connecting link. He was one of those 

18 Pere Goriot. 

whom people choose to call " a jolly fellow ! " He had 
broad shoulders, a deep chest, muscles well developed, 
and strong square hands, the knuckles marked by tufts 
of red hair. His face, prematurely furrowed, showed 
signs of a hard nature not in keeping with his com- 
pliant and cordial manners ; but his strong barytone 
voice, which harmonized with his boisterous gayety, was 
not unpleasing. He was obliging and always cheerful. 
If a lock were out of order he would unscrew it, mend 
it, oil it, file it, and put it on again, saying, " Oh, I know 
how ! " In fact he knew something about many things ; 
about ships, the sea, France, foreign countries, business, 
public events, men, laws, hotels, prisons. If any one 
complained of hard luck, Vautrin offered his services. 
Several times he had lent money to Madame Vauquer, 
and even to her guests ; and these creditors would have 
died sooner than not repay him, for in spite of his ap- 
parent good temper there was a keen and resolute ex- 
pression in his eye which inspired them with fear. His 
very method of spitting marked his imperturbable sang- 
froid, the sang-froid which shrinks from no crime to 
escape personal difficulty or danger. A stern judge, 
his keen eye pierced to the core of all questions, into 
all consciences, and even into the depths of all feelings. 
His custom was to go out after breakfast, to come 
home to dinner, to be off again for the whole evening, 
and to get in late at night with a latch-key which 
Madame Vauquer intrusted to him alone. He was on 
the best terms with his landlady, calling her " Mamma 
Vauquer," and catching her affectionately round the 
waist, a flattery not understood on its real merits, for 
the widow believed it an easy feat, whereas Vautrin 

Pere G-oriot. 19 

was the only man in the house whose arms were long 
enough to encircle that solid circumference. One trait 
of his character was to pay lavishly fifteen francs a 
month for the gloria (coffee with brandy in it) which 
he took at dessert. People less superficial than those 
about him, who were chiefly young men carried away by 
the whirl of life in the great city, or old men indifferent 
to all that did not touch them personally, would have 
examined into the doubts with which Vautrin inspired 
them. He knew, or guessed, the private affairs of every 
one about him ; yet no one knew anything of his, nor 
of his thoughts and occupations. He set up his good 
humor, his obligingness, and his unfailing gayety as a 
barrier between himself and others ; but through it 
gleamed from time to time alarming flashes of his hid- 
den nature. Sometimes a saying worthy of Juvenal es- 
caped his lips, as if it gave him pleasure to scout at law, 
to lash society, or drag to light its inconsistencies; as 
if he cherished some grudge against the cause of order, 
or hid some mystery in the dark recesses of his life. 

Attracted, unconsciously, by the strength of one man 
and the beauty of the other, Mademoiselle Taillefer 
divided her shy glances and her secret thoughts between 
the man of forty and the law student. Neither of 
them appeared to take notice of her, although her posi- 
tion might at any time undergo a change which would 
make her a match worth looking after. None of 
Madame Vauquer's guests were at much pains to in- 
quire into the misfortunes which their co-inmates 
claimed to have suffered. Profound indifference, min- 
gled with distrust, was the upshot of their relations to 
each other. They knew they had no help to offer: 

20 Pcre G-oriot. 

each had heard the tale of sorrows till their cup of con- 
solation held nothing but the dregs. Like old married 
couples, they had nothing more to say to one another; 
their daily intercourse was now mechanical ; the fric- 
tion of machinery unoiled. All could pass a blind man 
in the street without looking at him, or listen, un- 
touched, to a tale of woe ; death was for them the solu- 
tion of the problem of poverty, and they stood coldly 
beside its bitterest agony. The happiest among these 
hapless beings was Madame Vauquer herself, the ruler 
of this asylum for broken lives. To her the little garden, 
arid as a steppe, chill, silent, dusty, humid, was a smiling 
pleasure-ground. To her the dismal yellow house, which 
smelt of the corrosions of life, had its delights. Its 
dungeon cells belonged to her. She fed the prisoners 
who lived in them, prisoners sentenced to hard 
labor for life, and she knew how to make her au- 
thority respected. Indeed, as she said to herself, where 
could these people find elsewhere in Paris, at so low a 
price, food that was as wholesome and as plentiful as 
that which she gave them ? Each had his own room 
which he was free to keep sweet and clean, if he could 
not make it elegant or comfortable. They knew this 
well themselves, and had she been guilty of even cry- 
ing injustice her victims would have borne it without 

Such a household might be expected to offer, and 
did offer, in miniature, the elements of a complete so- 
ciety. Among the eighteen inmates, there was, as may 
be seen in schools or in the great world, one repulsed 
and rejected creature, a souffre-douleur, the butt of 
jests and ridicule. At the beginning of his second 

Pere. G-oriot. 21 

year, this figure became to Eugene de Rastignac the 
must prominent of those among whom necessity com- 
pelled him to live. This pariah of the household was 
the old paste-maker, Pere Goriot, upon whose head a 
painter would have cast, as the historian casts, all the 
light of the picture. How came this scorn dashed 
with a tinge of hate, this persecution mixed with a 
passing pity, this insolence towards misfortune, to fall 
upon the oldest member of the pension ? Had he pro- 
voked such treatment by oddities and absurdities less 
easily forgiven by his fellows than actual vice ? These 
are questions which bear closely on many an instance 
of social injustice. Human nature is hard on those 
who suffer humbly from a consciousness that they are 
too feeble to resist, or wearily indifferent to their fate. 
Do we not all like to test our power by woi'king our 
will on something or on somebody ? The weakest of 
beings, the ragged street-boy, rings our door-bell and 
runs away, or climbs some monument to scratch his 
name upon the unsullied marble. 

22 Pere Goriot. 


IN 1818, Pere Goriot, then about sixty-two years 
of age, came to live at Madame Vauquer's, having, 
as he said, given up business. He took the apart- 
ment afterwards occupied by Madame Couture, paying 
twelve hundred francs a year, like a man to whom five 
louis more or less was of little consequence. Madame 
Vauquer fitted up at his expense the three rooms of 
this suite for a sum which just repaid her, she said, for 
the outlay. They were miserably furnished with yel- 
low cotton curtains, chairs of painted pine covered with 
worsted velvet, and a few worthless colored prints upon 
the walls, which were hung with papers rejected, one 
might suppose, by the wineshops of the suburbs. Per- 
haps the careless liberality shown in this transaction 
by Pore Goriot, who at that period was respectfully 
called Monsieur Goriot, caused his landlady to consider 
him as a simpleton who knew little of business. 

Goriot brought with him a well-furnished wardrobe, 
suitable for a rich tradesman who on retiring from 
business could afford to make himself comfortable. 
Madame Vauquer especially admired eighteen linen 
shirts of the best quality, to which attention was at- 
tracted by two pins worn on his shirt-frill and united 
by a chain, in each of which shone a large diamond. 
The old man usually wore a light-blue coat, and he 

Pere Goriot. 23 

put on a clean white waistcoat every day, beneath 
which rose and fell his portly stomach, upheaving as 
he breathed a thick gold chain adorned with seals and 
charms. His snuff-box was of gold, with a medallion 
on the cover containing hair, which created a suspicion 
of bonnes fortunes ; and when Madame Vauquer ac- 
cused him of gallantry, the complacent smile of a man 
whose vanity is tickled flickered on his lips. His 
closets, ses armoires (he pronounced the word ormoires 
after the manner of common people), were full of sil- 
ver plate, the relics of his housekeeping. The widow's 
eyes sparkled when she helped him to unpack and 
arrange these treasures, ladles, forks, and spoons; 
castors, sauce-boats, dishes, and a breakfast service in 
silver gilt, the various pieces weighing many ounces, 
all of which he had been unwilling to part with on 
breaking up his home, many of them recalling events 
which were sacred in his family history. " This," he 
said to Madame Vauquer as he put away a dish and 
porringer, on the cover of which were two turtle-doves 
fondling each other with their beaks, "was the first 
gift my wife made me. She gave it to me on the an- 
niversary of our wedding-day. Poor dear ! it cost her 
all the little money she had saved up before our mar- 
riage. Ah ! Madame, I would rather scratch a living 
with my nails out of the ground than part with that 
porringer ; but, thank God ! I can drink my coffee out 
of it as long as I live. I am not badly off: I have 
plenty of bread baked, as they say, for some time to 

In addition to this, Madame Vauquer's prying eyes 
had seen a certain entry in what is called the great 

24 Pere G-oriot. 

book, le grand livre, that is, the list of those who 
have money in the state funds, from which, roughly 
calculated, it was evident that the worthy Goriot had 
an income of eight to ten thousand francs. From that 
moment Madame Vauquer, nee de Conflans, who was 
then forty-eight years old, and owned to thirty-nine, 
nourished a dream of ambition. Though Monsieur 
Goriot's eyelids were swollen, and an obstruction of 
the tear-passage caused him to wipe his eyes fre- 
quently, she thought his person agreeable and his 
manners comme-il-faut. Moreover, the stout calves of 
his legs, and even his long square nose, seemed to her 
to denote points of character which suited her inten- 
tions ; and this opinion was confirmed by the round- 
ness of his face and the naif silliness of its expression. 
She put him down for a sturdy fool, whose mind ran 
to sentiment, and who could be led by his feelings 
in any direction. His hair, which he wore in " pigeon- 
wings," ailes de pigeon, that is to say, drawn low 
over the ears and tied behind in a queue, was dressed 
and powdered daily by the hair-dresser of the Ecole 
Polytechnique, who arranged five points on his low 
forehead, which she thought very becoming. Thouo-h 
somewhat uncouth in manner, he was always spick and 
span in his dress, and took snuff with so opulent an 
air, scattering it liberally as if confident the box would 
be always full of the very best, that the night after his 
arrival Madame Vauquer went to bed turning over in 
her mind a project for shuffling off the shroud of Vau- 
quer and coming to life again as Madame Goriot. To 
be married ; to get rid of her pension; to have the arm 
of this high flower of bourgeoisie ; to become a nota- 

Pere Croriot. 25 

bility in her own quarter; to queter ^collect money) for 
the poor; to make up little parties for Sunday jaunts 
to Choisy, Soissy, or Gentilly ; to go to the play when 
she liked, and sit in a box she should pay for, instead 
of waiting for free passes given to her occasionally and 
only in July, in short, all the Eldorado of Parisian 
lower-class middle-life seemed possible for her if she 
married Monsieur Goriot. She had never told any one 
that she had forty thousand francs laid by, scraped 
together sou by sou. Thus she was an equal match 
for the worthy man in point of fortune; and "as 
to everything else, I am quite as good as he," she 
reflected, turning over in her bed, where the fat 
Sylvie found every morning the impress of her fair 

From that day, and for about three months, Madame 
Vauquer employed the hair-dresser of Monsieur Goriot 
and made some improvements in her toilette, which 
she explained by the necessity of keeping the decorum 
of her house on a level with the distinguished people 
who frequented it. She did her best to make the pen- 
sion select, by giving out that henceforth she would 
admit no one who had not some special pretentious to 
gentility. If a stranger came to inspect the rooms, he 
was made aware of the preference which Monsieur 
Goriot " one of the most distinguished and respect- 
able men of business in Paris " had given to the es- 
tablishment. She sent out a prospectus headed MAISON 
VAUQUER. " It was," she stated, " one of the oldest 
and best patronized pensions bourgeoises in the Latin 
quarter. It commanded a fine view of the valley of 
the Gobelins " (seen from one window in the third 

26 Pere Goriot. 

storey), and had a lovely garden, at the end of which 
stretched an Avenue of Lindens." She concluded by 
extolling its pure air and the quiet of its retired situa- 
tion. This prospectus brought her Madame la Com- 
tesse de 1'Ambermesnil, a woman thirty-six years of 
age, who was expecting the final settlement of the af- 
fairs of her late husband and the payments due to her 
as the widow of a general officer who had died, as she 
phrased it, upon felds of battle. Madame Vauquer 
now took pains with her table, made fires in the salon 
and the dining-room, and justified her prospectus so 
well that she was actually out of pocket by her liber- 
ality. The countess was so pleased that she promised 
Madame Vauquer, whom she called her " dearest 
friend," to bring to the house the Baronne de Vau- 
merland and the widow of Colonel Piqueoiseau, two 
of her acquaintances then living at a pension in the 
Marais, an establishment more expensive than the 
Maison Vauquer. All these ladies expected to be in 
easy circumstances when the War Office made up its 
accounts. " But," as they said, " government offices 
keep you waiting so long ! " 

Madame de 1'Ambermesnil used to join Madame 
Vauquer in her private room after dinner, where they 
gossipped over small glasses of ratifia and tit-bits from 
the table, set aside for the mistress of the house. The 
countess much approved the views of her hostess as to 
the alliance with Monsieur Goriot. The idea, she said, 
was excellent ; she had planned it from the moment of 
her arrival. 

" Ah ! my dear lady, he is all a man ought to be," 
said the widow ; " a man thoroughly well preserved. 

Pere Goriot. 27 

He might make a woman very happy for several years 
to come." 

The countess was not chary of her criticisms on 
Madame Vauquer's dress, which harmonized ill with 
her intentions. "You must put yourself on a war- 
footing," she said. 

After much consultation the two widows repaired to 
the Palais Royal, where, in the Galeries de Bois, they 
bought a hat, and a bonnet with many feathers. Then 
the countess enticed her friend to the famous shop 
called La Petite Jeannette, where they chose a dress 
and mantle. When these preparations were made, and 
the widow was fairly under arms, she looked a good 
deal like the figure on a sign-board of the Boeuf a la 
Mode. However, she thought herself so changed for 
the better, and so much indebted to her friend, that, 
though naturally stingy, she begged her acceptance of 
a hat costing twenty francs. It is true she expected 
in return her good offices with Monsieur Goriot, and 
asked her to sound him as to his views. Madame de 
l'Ainbermesnil was quite ready to undertake the nego- 
tiation, and got round the old gentleman so far as to 
bring him to a conference ; from which, however, find- 
ing him shy not to say refractory when she made 
advances to him (on her own account), she came away 
disgusted, and pronounced him a mere boor. 

" My angel," she said to her dear friend, U you will 
never make anything of that man. He is a miser, a 
fool, a perfect wretch, who will give you nothing but 

Whatever may have taken place between Madame 
de I'Ambermesnil and Monsieur Goriot, the result of 

28 Pre Goriot. 

the interview was that the former declared she would 
not remain in the house with him. The next morning 
she went off, forgetting to pay her bill, and leaving 
nothing behind her but a parcel of old clothes to the 
value of five francs ; and although Madame Vauquer 
did her best to get upon her traces, she could never 
discover in all Paris the smallest sign of Madame la 
Comtesse de 1'Ambermesnil. 

She often alluded to this trying affair, and invariably 
blamed herself for her rash confidence in human nature, 
though she was in reality more distrustful than a cat 
in her dealings with her fellow-men. But like many 
other people, while suspecting those about her, she fell 
an easv prey to persons she did not know, a curious 
and contradictory fact ; but the root of its paradox 
will be found in the human heart. There are people 
who come at last to perceive that they have nothing 
more to gain from those who know them well. To 
such they have shown the hollowness of their natures ; 
they know themselves judged and severely judged ; yet 
so insatiable is their craving for flattery, so devouring 
their desire to assume in the eyes of others the virtues 
which they have not got, that they court the esteem 
and affection of strangers who do not know them and 
therefore cannot judge them, taking the risk of losing 
all such credit eventually. There is also another class 
of minds born selfish, who will not do good to friends 
or neighbors because it is their duty to do it, while by 
paying attentions to strangers they secure a return 
of thanks and praise which feeds their self-love. The 
nearer people stand to them the less they will do for 
them ; widen the circle, and they are more ready to 

Pere G-oriot. 29 

lend a helping hand. Madame Vauquer's nature was 
allied to both classes ; it was essentially mean, false, 
and sordid. 

" If I had been here," Vautrin used to say to her, 
" this would never have happened. I 'd have unmasked 
the woman fast enough. I know their tricks." 

Like all narrow-minded people, Madame Vauquer 
never looked beyond the limits of the events around 
her, nor troubled herself about their hidden causes. 
She liked to blame others for her own mistakes. When 
this disaster happened, she chose to consider the old 
vermicelli maker as the author of her woe, and began 
from that time to get sober, as she phrased it to se 
degriser about him. No sooner did she recognize 
the inutility of her advances and of her outlay upon 
allurements, than she set up a theory to account for it. 
The old man must, she said, have liaisons elsewhere. 
She admitted that the hopes she had nursed were built 
upon imaginary foundations; that the countess, who 
appeared to know what she was talking about, was 
right in saying that nothing could be made of such a 
man. Of course she went further in hate than she had 
gone in friendship, her hatred not being the child of 
love, but of hopes disappointed. If the human heart 
pauses to rest by the wayside, as it mounts to the sum- 
mits of affection, it finds no stopping-place when it 
starts on the down-incline. 

Monsieur Goriot, however, was her lodger, and the 
widow was obliged to repress all outward expression of 
her wounded feelings, to smother the sighs caused by 
her self-deception, and to choke down her desires for 
vengeance, like a monk taunted by his superior. Little 

30 P$re Goriot. 

minds vent their feelings, bad or good, in little ways. 
The widow used her woman's wit to invent subtle per- 
secutions for her victim. She began by cutting off the 
superfluities of her housekeeping. " No more pickles, 
no more anchovies," she said to Sylvie the morning she 
went back to the old programme ; " pickles and ancho- 
vies are delusions." Monsieur Goriot, however, was a 
frugal man, habitually parsimonious, as most men are 
who have saved up their fortunes : soup, bouilli, and 
one dish of vegetables was, and always had been, the 
dinner he liked best ; so that it was difficult for Madame 
Yauquer to annoy him by offending his tastes in this 
line. Disheartened by her failure, she now began to 
treat him with contempt, and to snub him before the 
other guests, who, chiefly for amusement, joined in the 
persecution, and thus assisted her revenge. At the end 
of a year she had pushed her ill opinion of him so far 
as to ask herself why a man with eight to ten thousand 
francs a year, and superb plate and jewelry, should live 
in her house and pay a price so small in proportion to 
his fortune ? 

During the greater part of his first year Goriot had 
dined out once or twice a week ; then by degrees, only 
once in two weeks. His absence had suited Madame 
Vauquer so well that she was displeased at the regu- 
larity with which he now came to his meals. This 
change she attributed to a falling off in his means ; also 
to a wish to disoblige her. One of the despicable 
traits in lilliputian natures is their habit of attributing 
their own meannesses to others. Unfortunately, at the 
end of his second year Monsieur Goriot confirmed some 
of the gossip in circulatiou by asking Madame Yauquer 

Pere Goriot. 31 

if he could take rooms on the second storey and pay 
only nine hundred francs a year; and he became so 
economical that he went without a fire in his room 
all winter. The widow, under this new arrangement, 
demanded payment in advance, to which Monsieur 
Goriot consented; and from that day forth she called 
him Pere Goriot. It now became a question with 
the whole household, why was he going down in the 
world? Difficult to answer. As the false countess 
had said, Pere Goriot was reticent and sly. Accord- 
ing to the logic of empty heads who tattle because 
they have brains for nothing else, people who keep 
their own counsel must have something suspicious to 
conceal. The late distinguished man of business now 
sank into a cheat ; the elderly gallant became a dissi- 
pated rogue. Some, following Vautrin (who by this 
time was living at Madame Vauquer's), thought he 
dabbled at the Bourse, where, having ruined himself 
by speculations, he now picked up a few francs by 
fleecing others. Some said he was a petty gambler 
playing for ten francs a night; others that he was a 
spy of the police, though Vautrin declared him " not 
deep enough for that" Then he became a usurer, 
lending money by the week in small sums at extor- 
tionate interest ; finally a speculator in lotteries. In 
turn, they guessed him to be all that vice, impotence, 
and trickery made most shameful and mysterious. 
Yet, however low his conduct or his vices, the aver- 
sion he inspired never went so far as to propose that 
he should leave the house. He paid his board regu- 
larly. Besides, in a way they found him useful. On 
him they could vent their good and evil humors by 

32 P3re 

jests or stinging sarcasms. The opinion generally 
adopted among them was Madame Vauquer's. Ac- 
cording to her, the man she had lately pronuunced 
" all that he ought to be ; a man who might make a 
woman happy for years to come," was a libertine 
with extraordinary tastes. 

Here are the facts on which the widow based her 
calumnies. Some months after the departure of the 
disastrous countess who had lived six months at her 
expense, she was awakened early one morning by the 
rustle of a silk dress and the light foot-fall of a young 
woman going up to Goriot's apartment, the outer 
door of which was left conveniently ajar. A few 
moments later, Sylvie came to tell her that a "creature 
much too pretty to be what she ought to be," dressed 
like a goddess, wearing prunella slippers " not even 
dusty," had glided like au eel from the street to the 
kitchen, and had asked her the way to Monsieur Gori- 
ot's apartment. Mistress and maid listened, and 
caught several words pronounced in tender tones. 
The visit lasted some time. When Monsieur Goriot 
conducted his lady downstairs, Sylvie picked up her 
basket and pretended to be going to market as an 
excuse for following them. 

" Madame," she said to her mistress when she re- 
turned, " Monsieur Goriot must be deucedly rich to 
carry matters in that way. Would you believe it ? at 
the corner of the Estrapade there was a splendid car- 
riage waiting, and he put her into it ! " 

That day at dinner Madame Vauquer drew down a 
curtain to shade the old man's eyes into which the sun 
was shining. 

Pre Goriot. 33 

"I see that you know how to attract pretty women, 
Monsieur Goriot," she said as she did so ; " the sun 
follows you," alluding by means of the proverb to his 
visitor. " Well, you have good taste ; she is very 

" That was my daughter," lie said, with a gleam of 
pride, which those present mistook for the conceit of 
an old man pretending to save appearances. 

A month after this visit Monsieur Goriot received 
another. His daughter, who came the first time in 
morning dress, now came after dinner in full evening 
toilette. The company, who were all sitting in the 
salon, saw, as she passed, that she was a lovely blonde, 
slender, graceful, and far too distinguished looking to 
be the daughter of a Pere Goriot. 

" "Why, he's got two ! " cried Sylvie, who did not 
recognize her. 

A few days later another daughter came, tall, dark, 
with black hair and brilliant eyes ; she too asked for 
Monsieur Goriot. 

" Three ! " said Sylvie. 

This lady, who came early in the morning at her 
first visit, came again a few days later in a carriage 
and dressed for a ball. 

"That makes four! " exclaimed Madame Vauquer 
and Sylvie, who did not recognize in the fine lady of 
the evening the simply dressed young woman who 
paid her first visit on foot at an early hour. 

Goriot was still paying twelve hundred francs a 
year when this took place ; and Madame Vauquer was 
indulgent, nay, even amused at what she thought his 
adroitness in passing these ladies off as his daughters. 

34 Pere G-oriot. 

Still, as the visits explained his indifference to her own 
attractions, she permitted herself to call him an old 
scamp ; and when, soon after, he suddenly fell to pay- 
ing nine hundred francs a year, she fiercely asked what 
business he had to receive people of that kind in her 
house. Pere Goriot answered that the lady she alluded 
to was his eldest daughter. 

" I suppose you will tell me next that you have 
thirty-six daughters," she said sharply. 

" I have only two," he replied, with the gentleness of 
a broken spirit beaten down to the docility of misery. 

Towards the end of the third year, Pere Goriot re- 
duced his expenses still further, by going up to the 
third storey and paying only forty-five francs a month. 
He gave up snuff, dismissed his barber, and ceased to 
wear powder. When he appeared for the first time 
without it, his landlady uttered an exclamation of sur- 
prise on seeing the color of his hair. It was 'a dirty, 
greenish gray. His face, which had grown sadder day 
by day under the influence of some secret sorrow, was 
now the most desolate of all those that met around 
that dismal dinner-table. The widow had no longer 
any doubt. Here was a miserable wretch who had 
worn himself out by his excesses. 

When his stock of linen was exhausted, he replaced 
it by cotton at fourteen sous a yard. His diamonds, 
his gold snuff-box, his chain, his jewels, disappeared 
one after the other. The light-blue coat was given up 
with the rest of his comfortable clothing, and he now 
wore, summer and winter, a frock-coat of coarse brown 
cloth, a waistcoat of cheap cotton and woollen stuff, 
and trousers of gray twill. He grew thinner and thin- 

Pere Goriot. 35 

ner ; the calves of his legs shrank ; his face, which 
once had the beaming roundness of a well-to-do bour- 
geois, was now furrowed with wrinkles, the lines on 
his forehead deepened, and his jaws grew gaunt and 
sharp. At the end of his fourth year in the Rue Neuve 
Sainte-Genevieve he bore no likeness to his former self. 
The sound old paste-maker of sixty-two, who might 
have passed for forty ; the jolly, fat bourgeois, foolish 
and simple-minded, whose jaunty bearing amused even 
those who passed him on the street, and whose smile 
had something of the gayety of youth, seemed now a 
worn-out septuagenarian, stupid, vacillating, wan. His 
lively blue eyes had tarnished into a dull steel-gray. 
They never watered now ; but the red rims still en- 
circled them, and seemed to weep tears of blood. Some 
people regarded him with horror, others pitied him. 
The young medical students, who observed the drop of 
his under lip and took note of his facial angle, said to 
each other, after teasing and tormenting him and get- 
ting no reply, that he was falling into imbecility. 

One day, after dinner, Madame Vauquer said to him, 
" So your daughters don't come to see you any more ? " 
in a tone as though she doubted the relationship. He 
started as if she had pricked him with a dagger. 

" They do come sometimes," he said sadly. 

"Ah, ah! so you still see them sometimes some- 
times ? " cried the students. " Bravo, Pere Goriot ! " 

But the old man did not hear the jests that followed 
his simple answer. He had fallen back into that pas- 
sive state which those who observed him superficially 
took for senile indifference. If they had really known 
what was passing before their eyes, they might have 

36 Pere Croriot. 

felt an interest in his state ns a moral and physical 
problem. But they did not know, nor would it have 
been easy to know, the old man's veal life. The elderly 
people of the pension, who alone felt any interest in 
it, never went out of the neighborhood, they lived 
like oysters in a bed ; and as for the young men, the 
excitements of their Parisian life put the poor old man 
at whom they gibed out of their heads as soon as they 
turned the corner of the Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve. 
To narrow minds, like those of these thoughtless stu- 
dents, the blank misery of Pere Goriot and his dull 
stupidity were incompatible with the possession of any 
means or indeed of any capacity whatever. As to the 
women whom he called his daughters, every one shared 
the opinion of Madame Vauquer, who argued with 
that severity of logic which the habit of attributing low 
motives cultivates in old women given over to gossip- 
ping that "if Pere Goriot had daughters as rich as 
these women seemed to be, he would not be living in 
my house, paying forty-five francs a month, and dress- 
ing like a beggar." These inductions could not be 
gainsaid ; so that by the end of the month of Novem- 
ber, 1819, the time of the opening of this drama, every 
one in the house had made up his or her mind concern- 
ing the unhappy old man. He had never had, they 
declared, either wife or daughter ; he was a snail, a 
mollusk, "to be classed with the shell-fish," said one of 
them, an employe at a neighboring museum. Poiret 
was an eagle, a gentleman of fashion, beside Goriot. 
Poiret could talk, argue, and answer. To be sure he 
said nothing, for his talking, arguing, and reasoning 
were only the repetition in his own words of the last 

Pere Goriot. 37 

thing said by other people. But at least he took a 
share in the common talk, he was alive, he seemed to 
have his faculties ; while Pere Goriot, as another em- 
ploye at the museum remarked, was "always below 

38 Pere Groriot. 


DE RASTIGNAC had returned from his vaca- 
tion in a state of mind not uncommon in young men of 
talent, or in those to whom circumstances of difficulty 
impart for a time the qualities of picked men. During 
his first year in Paris the slight application required to 
pass through the first stages of his profession had left 
him free to enjoy the external charms of the capital. 
A student finds his time well filled up if lie wishes to 
study the windings of the Parisian labyrinth, to see all 
that is worth seeing at the theatres, to know the cus- 
toms, to learn the language, to get used to the special 
pleasures of the great capital, to ransack all its corners 
good and bad, to attend those lectures that may amuse 
him, and make a mental catalogue of the treasures 
collected in the museums. He begins by an enthusi- 
asm for some foolery that he thinks grandiose. He 
chooses a hero, possibly a professor who is paid to 
keep himself above the level of his audience ; or he 
pulls up his cravat and assumes an attitude at the 
Opera-Comique, glancing at some lady in the first tier 
of boxes. But after these initiations he usually peels 
off his husk, enlarges the horizon of his life, and ends 
by getting an idea of the various human strata which 
make society. If he begins by admiring the carnages 
on a fine day in the Champs-Elysees, he ends by envy- 
injr those who own them. 

Pere Goriot. 39 

Eugene had unconsciously gone through much of all 
this before his vacation, when he went back to his 
father's house with his bachelor's degree in Law and 
Letters. The faith of his childhood, his idles de prov- 
ince, his country ideas, had left him. His enlarged 
intelligence, his excited ambition, made him now see 
the true condition of things in his old home. His father, 
mother, two brothers, two sisters, and an aunt who had 
only a life income, lived on the little estate of Rastig- 
nac. This property at no time brought in more than 
three thousand francs a year, which was subject to the 
uncertainties attendant upon grape culture; and yet 
out of that limited revenue twelve hundred francs 
were subtracted for Eugene's expenses. The sight of 
their perpetual pinching, which they tried generously 
to conceal from him ; the comparison he was forced to 
make between his sisters, whom he once thought pretty 
girls, and the Parisian women who realized the loveli- 
ness of his boyish dreams ; the uncertain prospects of 
the large family dependent on his success ; the frugality 
with which everything was cared for ; the wine squeezed 
for family use out of the last strainings of the press ; 
together with innumerable shifts that need not be told 
here, increased ten-fold his desires for success, and 
made him thirst for the distinctions of the world. At 
first he felt, as high-strung spirits do feel, that he 
would owe nothing except to his own merits. But 
his nature was eminently southern ; when the time 
for action came, he was liable to be assailed by hesita- 
tions such as seize men in mid-ocean when they have 
lost their reckoning and know not how to lay their 
course, nor at what angle to set their sails. At first 

40 Pere Groriot. 

he had been eager to fling himself body and soul into 
the work of his profession ; then he was led away by 
the importance of forming social ties. He observed 
the influence which women exert upon society ; and 
he suddenly resolved to try for success in the great 
world, and to win the help and protection of women 
of social standing. Surely, they might be won by a 
young man, ardent and intelligent, whose mental gifts 
were aided by the personal charm of elegance, and 
who possessed the beauty which eminently attracts 
women, the beauty of strength. 

These ideas worked within him as he walked about 
the fields listening to the merry chatter of his sisters, 
who thought him greatly changed. His aunt, Madame 
de Marcillac, had been at court in the days before the 
French Revolution, and her associates were among 
the greatest people of that time. All at once it oc- 
curred to him, as he pondered his ambitious designs, 
that among the recollections of her past life, with 
which she had amused his boyhood, were the elements 
of a social success more brilliant than any he could 
hope to attain by the study of law. He questioned 
her as to family ties, which she might renew on his 
behalf. After shaking the branches of her genealogi- 
cal tree, the old lady came to the conclusion, that, of 
all the persons who might be useful to him among the 
careless multitude of her great relatives, Madame la 
Vicomtesse de Beause'ant was likely to prove the most 
available. She therefore wrote to this young woman 
an old-fashioned letter of introduction, and told 
Eugene that if he pleased Madame de Beauseant 
she would undoubtedly present him to the rest of his 

Pere G-oriot. 41 

relatives. A few days after his return to Paris, 
Rastignac sent his aunt's letter to the viscountess, 
who replied by an invitation to a ball for the next 

Such, then, was the general situation of affairs in 
the Maison Vauquer at the end of November, 1819. 
Two days later, Eugene, having been to Madame de 
Beauseant's ball, came home about two o'clock in the 
morning. That he might redeem the time lost in 
gayety, he had made a vow, in the middle of a dance, to 
sit up and read law till daylight. It was the first time 
he had stayed awake in that still and silent quarter of 
Paris, but he was prepared for it by the strong excite- 
ment of his introduction to the splendors of the great 
world. Eugene had not dined that day at the Maison 
Vauquer, and the household were left to suppose that 
he would not return before daylight, as had sometimes 
happened after a fete at the Prado, or a ball at the 
Odeon, to the detriment of his silk-stockings and the 
stretching of his dancing-shoes. Before slipping the 
bolts of the front door for the night, Christophe had 
opened it and stood looking down the street. At 
that moment Rastignac came in and went up to his 
room without making any noise, followed by Chris- 
tophe who made a great deal. Eugene took off his 
evening coat, put on his slippers, and an old dressing- 
gown, lit his fire of mottes, little blocks of refuse bark 
prepared as a cheap fuel, and sat down so quickly 
to his work that the noise of Christophe's heavy foot- 
steps drowned the lesser sound of his own movements. 
He sat thinking a few moments before he opened his 

42 Pere Goriot. 

He had found Madame <le Beauseant one of the 
queens of Parisian society, and her house considered 
the most agreeable in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. 
She was by birth and fortune an acknowledged leader 
in the fashionable world. Thanks to his aunt de Mar- 
cillac, the poor student had been welcomed in this bril- 
liant house ; though as yet he did not realize the extent 
of the favor. To be admitted into those gilded salons 
was equivalent to a patent of nobility. Once launched 
in the society he met there, the most exclusive of all 
societies, he had obtained the right to go everywhere. 
Dazzled by the brilliancy that surrounded him, Eugene, 
after exchanging a few words with his hostess, had 
given all his attention to one lady in that circle of 
Parisian goddesses, a lady whose beauty was of a 
type that attracts at first sight the admiration of young 
men. Countess Anastasie de Restaud, tall and well- 
made, was thought to have one of the finest figures in 
Paris. With large dark eyes, beautiful hands, a well- 
turned foot, vivacity and grace in all her movements, 
she was a woman whom such an authority as the Mar- 
quis de Ronquerolles declared to be " thoroughbred." 
Her high-strung, nervous temperament had not im- 
paired her beauty. The lines of her figure were full 
and rounded, though not at all inclining to embonpoint. 
11 Thoroughbred," lt pure-blooded," these expressions 
were beginning to take the place of the old forms 
of approval, "angels of heaven," hyperboles from 
Ossian, and all the mythological vocabulary rejected 
by modern dandyism. To Rastignac, Madame de 
Restaud seemed the woman who might serve his pur- 
pose. He secured two dances in the list written 

Pere Croriot. 43 

upon her fan, and talked to her during the pauses of 
a quadrille. 

" Where may I hope to meet you again, Madame ? " 
he said, with that insistent admiration which has so 
much charm for women. 

" Oh," she said, " in the Bois, at the opera, at home, 

And this bold son of the south pressed his way with 
the charming countess as far as a man could go in the 
intervals of a waltz and a quadrille. When he told 
her that he was cousin to Madame de Beauseant, the 
countess, whom he took for a great lady, invited him 
to visit her. From the smile she gave him at parting, 
Rastignac judged that the invitation was one he might 
accept immediately. He had the good fortune, in the 
course of the evening, to make the acquaintance of a 
man too noble to ridicule his ignorance, a vice in the 
eyes of the impertinent young dandies of the period, 
gifted themselves with the vice of superciliousness. 
They were all there in full force : the Maulincourts, 
the Ronquerolles, the Maxime de Trailles, the de Mar- 
says, the Adjuda-Pintos, in the glory of their self- 
conceit, and dancing attendance on the most elegant 
women of Paris, Lady Brandon, the Duchesse de 
Lungeais, the Comtesse de Kergarouet, Madame de 
Serizy, the Duchesse de Carigliano, Comtesse Ferraud, 
Madame de Lanty, the Marquise d'Aiglemont, Ma- 
dame Firrniani, the Marquise de Listomere and the 
Marquise d'Espard, the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, 
and the de Grandlieus. 1 Happily, therefore, for the 

1 These were all living people to de Balzac, and their histories 
can be found in his other books. 

44 Pre G-oriot. 

inexperienced student, he stumbled upon the Marquis 
de Montriveau, who was present in attendance on the 
Duchesse de Langeais, a general, a brave soldier, 
and simple-hearted as a child. From him Eugene 
learned that Madame de Restaud lived in the Rue du 

To be young, to thirst for distinction, to hunger for 
the smiles of a woman, to see unclosing before him the 
doors of these great mansions, to plant his foot in the 
Faubourg at Madame de Beauseant's, to bend the knee 
in the Chaussee d' Antin at Madame de Restaud's, to 
glance through the long vista of Parisian salons and 
know himself attractive and fit to win help and protec- 
tion from a woman, to feel that he could tread firmly 
the social tight-rope, where safety depends upon nerve 
and self-confidence, and to have found already in one 
of these rare women the balance-pole of his ambition, 
with such thoughts, with visions of this woman rising 
in the smoke of his bark fire, Law on the one hand, 
Poverty on the other, what wonder that Eugene pierced 
the future in a waking dream, and attained in fancy to 
his goal, success? His vagrant thoughts were in 
full career, and he was picturing himself by the side of 
Madame de Restaud, when a sigh broke the silence of 
the night, a sigh so deep and piteous that it echoed 
in the heart of the young man as though it had been 
a death-rattle. 

He opened his door softly, and slipping into the 
corridor, saw a line of light along Pere Goriot's thresh- 
old. Fearing that his neighbor was ill, he stooped 
and looked through the key-hole. The old man was 
at work in a way so apparently criminal that Rastignac 

Pere Croriot. 45 

thought the interests of society required him to watch 
and see what came of it. Pere Goriot had fastened 
two pieces of plate, a bowl of some kind with the dish 
belonging to it, to the leg of his table. He had twisted 
a piece of rope round these objects, which were richly 
embossed, and was pulling upon it with all his strength, 
evidently trying to reduce them to a mere lump of 

" The devil ! What a fellow ! " cried Rastignac to 
himself, as he saw the strong arms of the old man 
kneading up the silver as if it had been dough. " Can 
he be a robber ; or a receiver of stolen goods ? Does 
he make believe to be a fool, that he may carry on his 
iniquities in secret? Is this what makes him live here 
like a beggar?" added Eugene, taking his eye from 
the key-hole. 

He looked again. Pere Goriot had unwound his 
rope. He took the lump of silver and laid it on the 
table, where he had spread a cloth, and rolled it into a 
bar, an operation he performed with the utmost ease. 

" Why, he must have arms like Augustus the Strong, 
King of Poland ! " cried Eugene, when the bar was 
nearly fashioned. 

Pere Goriot looked sadly at his work, and his tears 
fell fast upon the silver. He then blew out the rushlight 
by whose glimmer he had done the deed, and Eugene 
heard him lie down upon his bed with a heavy sigh. 

" He must be mad ! " thought the student. 

" Poor child ! " groaned Pere Goriot. 

On hearing these words Rastignac suddenly resolved 
to say nothing about what he had seen, and not to 
condemn his neighbor too hastily. He was about to 

46 Pere Groriot. 

return to his room when he became aware of another 
noise, and one difficult to define, as if men in felt shoes 
were treading softly on the stairs. Eugene listened, 
and was sure that he heard the breathing of two men. 
No door creaked, and no distinct steps were heard, but 
he caught a sudden gleam of light on the second storey 
shining through the chinks of Vautrin's door. 

"Mysteries enough for one night in a pension bour- 
geoise" he said to himself. He went down a few stairs 
and listened intently. The chink of gold coin struck 
his ear. In a few moments the light was extinguished, 
the breathing of two men was again heard, but again 
no door creaked. The men were going softly down the 
stairs, and the slight noise of their steps died away. 

"Who is there?" cried Madame Vauquer, opening 
a window in her apartment which looked on the stairs. 

"I have just come in, Mamma Vauquer," replied the 
strong voice of Vautrin. 

" That 's odd," said Eugene returning to his chamber, 
"for I am certain I saw Christophe slip the bolts! 
They say you must sit up all night in Paris if you want 
to know what your neighbors do." 

His dreams of amorous ambition being dispelled by 
these inteiTuptions, Eugene now began to study ; but 
with little profit. His mind wandered to the suspicions 
roused by Pere Goriot, then to the face of Madame de 
Restaud rising before him as the pharos of a brilliant 
destiny ; and before long he went to bed and to sleep 
with his hands clinched. Out of every ten nights which 
young people vow to study seven are spent in sleep. 
Ah ! we must be more than twenty to stay awake all 

Pere Goriot. 47 


THE next morning Paris was enveloped in a dense 
fog ; one of those fogs that wrap themselves about the 
city and make the atmosphere so dark that even punc- 
tual people lose note of time. Business engagements 
are not kept, and many think it eight o'clock when it 
is nearly midday. It was half-past nine, and Madame 
Vauquer was not out of bed. Christophe and Sylvie, 
who were both behindhand, were taking their coffee, 
made with the top skimmings of the milk, the rest of 
which Sylvie boiled a long time to thicken it, so that 
Madame Vauquer might not discover the tithe thus 
illegally levied. 

" Sylvie," said Christophe, soaking his first bit of 
toast, " Monsieur Vautrin a good fellow all the same 
had twb more men to see him last night. If Madame 
asks about it, you need n't say much." 

" Did he give you anything? " 

" Paid me five francs for his month ; that 's as much 
as to say, ' Hold your tongue.' " 

" He and Madame Couture," said Sylvie, " are not 
mean ; all the rest would like to take back with their 
left hands what their right hands give us on New 
Year's Day." 

" And what 's that, anyhow ?" cried Christophe. " A 
miserable five-franc piece, that 's all ! There 's Pere 

48 Pere Goriot. 

Goriot, who has blacked his own boots these two 
months. That old miser, Poiret, won't use blacking ; 
he'd drink it sooner than put it on his broken old 
shoes. As to that slip of a student, he only gives me 
forty sous a month. Forty sons doesn't pay for my 
brushes ; and he sells his old clothes into the bargain. 
What a hovel, to be sure ! " 

"Bah !" said Sylvie, slowly sipping her coffee, " our 
places are the best in the quarter. We do very well. 
But as to that big Vautrin Christophe, did anybody 
ever ask you about him ?" 

" Yes, I met a gentleman a few days ago in the 
street, and said he, ' Have n't you got at your house a 
stout gentleman who dyes his whiskers ? ' I said, ' No ; 
our stout gentleman's whiskers are not dyed ; a man 
who goes the pace he does has n't the time to dye his 
whiskers.' I told Monsieur Vautrin about it, and he 
said, ' Quite right, my boy ; always answer such ques- 
tions like that. There's nothing more disagreeable 
than to have people finding out your little infirmities. 
Marriages can be balked that way.'" 

" Well, in the market the other day," said Sylvie, 
" they tried to lime me too. A man asked if I had 
ever seen him putting on his shirt. Think of that, 
now! Goodness!" she cried, interrupting herself, 
" there 's a quarter to ten striking on the Val de Grace ; 
and everybody in bed ! " 

" Pooh ! they are all out. Madame Couture and her 
young person went to mass at Saint-Etienne's at eight 
o'clock. Pere Goriot was off early with a bundle ; the 
student won't be back till after lecture. I saw them 
all go out as I was cleaning my stairs. Pere Goriot 

Pere Goriot. 49 

knocked me as he passed with the thing he was carry- 
ing ; it was as hard as iron. What on earth is he 
about, that old fellow? All the rest of them spin him 
round like a top. But he 's a good man, I can tell you ; 
worth more than the whole of them put together. He 
does not give me a great deal, but the ladies where he 
sends me give famously. They are finely dressed out, 
I can tell you." 

" Them that he calls his daughters, hein? Why, 
there 's a dozen of them ! " 

" I only go to two, the two that came here." 
- " There ! I hear Madame getting up. She '11 make 
an uproar about it 's being late. I must go. Look 
after the milk, Christophe, and see that the cat does n't 
get it." 

So saying, Sylvie went upstairs to Madame Vauquer. 

" Why, Sylvie, how is this ? A quarter to ten, and 
you have let me sleep so late. I have slept like a 
dormouse. Such a thing never happened to me 

" It 's the fog ; you could cut it with a knife." 

" But about breakfast " 

"Bah! the devil got into the lodgers, and they 
turned out des lepatron-jaquet" (at daybreak). 

" Sylvie, do speak properly, and say le patron-minet" 

" Well, Madame, any way you like. But you '11 all 
breakfast to-day at ten o'clock. Old Michonneau and 
Poiret are not out of their beds. There 's no one else 
in the house, and those two sleep like logs as they 

" But, Sylvie, why do you always mention them to- 
gether, as if " 


50 Pere Q-oriot. 

"As if what?" said Sylvie, with her horse-laugh, 
"why not? Two make a pair." 

" Something happened very odd last night, Syl- 
vie. How did Monsieur Vautrin get in after Chris- 
tophe had bolted the front door?" 

' Oh ! it was this way, Madame. Christophe heard 
Monsieur Vautrin, and he came down and unfastened 
the door. That's why you thought ' 

" Give me my wrapper, and go and see about break- 
fast. You can hash up the remains of that mutton 
with potatoes ; and give us some baked pears, those 
that cost three sous a dozen." 

A few minutes later, Madame Vauquer came into the 
dining-room just as her cat had knocked off a plate 
which covered a bowl of milk, and was lapping the 

" Mistigris ! " she cried. The cat scampered off, but 
soon returned and rubbed up against her legs. " Yes, 
yes, you old hypocrite ! you can coax when you 've 
been stealing. Sylvie ! Sylvie ! " 

" Yes, what is it, Madame ? " 

" Just see how much the cat has stolen ! " 

" That animal of a Christophe ! it's his fault. I told 
him to watch the cat, and set the table. Where has 
he gone to, I wonder ? Nevermind, Madame, I '11 keep 
that milk for Pere Goriot. I '11 put some water to it, 
and he '11 never know. He takes no notice of what he 
puts in his mouth." 

" What took him out early this morning, the old 
heathen ? " said Madame Vauquer, as she put the plates 
round the table. 

" Who knows ? He trades with all the five hundred 

Pere Croriot. 51 

" I believe I slept too long," said Madame Vauquer. 

"But the sleep has made Madame as fresh as a 

At this moment the door-bell rang, and Vautrin came 
into the salon, singing in his strong voice, 

"'Long have I wandered here and there, 
And wherever by chance 
I cast my glance ' 

" Oh ! Oh ! good morning, Mamma Vauquer," he 
cried, as soon as he perceived his landlady, gallantly 
catching her round the waist. 

" Come, come don't ! " she said. 

" Say, ' Don't, you impertinent rascal ! ' Ah ! do as I 
tell you ; say so ! Now I '11 help you to set the table. 
I 'm a pretty good fellow, am I not ? 

" ' I courted the brown, and I courted the fair ' 
I saw something odd just now 

" ' When I happened by chance 
To cast my glance ' " 

" What was it ? " exclaimed the widow. 

" Pere Goriot, at half-past eight o'clock, in the gold- 
smith's shop in the Rue Dauphine, the fellow, you 
know, who buys old spoons and gold lace. Pere Goriot 
sold him, for a good round sum, some sort of utensil in 
silver-gilt quite skilfully twisted out of shape, con- 
sidering he has never followed the profession." 

"Bah! really?" 

" Yes, truly. I was coming back that way after see- 
ing off a friend by the Messageries Royales. I followed 
Goriot to see what he would do next just for fun. 
He turned into the Rue des Gres, where he went to the 

52 Pre &orfot. 

house of an old usurer whom everybody knows, named 
Gobseck, a thorough rascal, capable of turning his 
father's bones into dominos ; a Jew, an Arab, a Greek, 
a Bohemian, a fellow confoundedly hard for a man to 
rob ; puts all his money into the bank." 

" But what does this old Goriot really do ? " 

" He does nothing," said Vautrin ; " he undoes. He 
is fool enough to ruin himself for worthless women, 
who " 

" He 's coming in," said Sylvie. 

" Christophe ! " called Pdre Goriot from without, 
" come up to my room." 

Christophe did as he was bid, and came back for his 
hat in a few moments. 

" Where are you going ? " said Madame Vauquer. 

" On a message for Monsieur Goriot." 

" What have you got there? " cried Vautrin, snatch- 
ing a letter out of Christophe's hand and reading the 
address, To Madame la Comtesse Anastasie de 

" Where are you going to take it ? " he continued, 
giving the letter back to Christophe. 

" Rue du Helcler. I was told to give it into the 
hands of Madame la comtesse herself." 

" I wonder what 's inside of it ? " said Vautrin, tak- 
ing it back again, and holding it up to the light; "a 
bank-note? No " he peeped into the envelope 
" it 's a cancelled note ! " he cried. " What a gal- 
lant old rascal ! Be off, my boy ! " he added, putting 
the palm of his big hand on Christophe's head, and 
spinning him round like a thimble. " You ought to 
get a good pour-boire" 

Pere Goriot. 53 

The table being set, Sylvie proceeded to boil the 
milk ; Madame Vauquer lit the dining-room stove, and 
Vautrin helped her, still humming, 

" Long have I wandered here and there." 

By the time all was ready, Madame Couture and 
Mademoiselle Taillefer came in. 

"Where have you been so early, my dear lady?" 
said Madame Vauquer to Madame Couture. 

" We have been to pray at Saint-Etienne du Mont. 
This is the day, you know, we are to go to Monsieur 
Taillefer. Victorine, poor little thing, is trembling like 
a leaf," said Madame Couture, sitting down before the 
stove, and putting up her damp feet, which began to 

" Pray, warm yourself, Victorine," said Madame 

" It is all very right, Mademoiselle, to pray to the 
good God to soften your father's heart," said Vautrin 
to the young lady ; "but that 's not enough. You need 
a friend who will speak his mind to the fierce old fel- 
low, a savage, they say, who has three millions of 
francs, and won't give you a dot [a dowry]. Every 
pretty girl needs a dot in times like these." 

"Poor darling!" said Madame Vauquer, "your 
monster of a father will bring punishment on his own 

At these words tears started in the eyes of the poor 
girl, and Madame Vauquer stopped, restrained by a 
sign from Madame Couture. 

" If we could only see him, if I might speak to 
him and give him the last letter of his poor wife," said 

64 Pere Goriot. 

the paymaster's widow. " I have never dared to send 
it to him by post ; he knows my writing." 

" ' O woman ! innocent, unhappy, persecuted,' as the 
poet says," cried Vautrin, " see what you have come 
to! In a few days I shall interfere in your affairs, 
and then things will go better." 

"Ah, Monsieur !" said Victorine, casting a look at 
once tearful and eager upon Vautrin, who seemed quite 
immoved by it ; " if you know any way of communi- 
cating with my father, tell him that his love and the 
honor of my mother are dearer to me than all the 
riches of the world. If you could succeed in making 
him less harsh to me, I would pray God for you. Be 
sure that my gratitude " 

" Long have I wandered here and there," 

sang Vautrin, in a tone of irony. 

At that moment Goriot, Mademoiselle Michonneau, 
and Poiret came down, attracted probably by the sa- 
vory smell of Sylvie's mutton. Just as the seven sat 
down to table and exchanged good mornings, half-past 
ten struck, and the step of the student was heard on 
the gravel. 

" Well, Monsieur Eugene," said Sylvie, " to-day you 
will get your breakfast with the others." 

The young man bowed to the company, and took his 
seat by Pere Goriot. 

" I have just had a strange adventure," he said, 
helping himself liberally to the mutton, and cutting a 
slice of bread which Madame Vauquer measured with 
her eye. 

' An adventure ! " repeated Poiret. 

Pere Groriot. 55 

" Well, old fellow, why should that astonish you ? " 
said Vautrin. " Monsieur looks as if he were made 
for adventures." 

Mademoiselle Taillefer glanced timidly at the young 

" Come, tell us ! " said Madame Vauquer. 

" Last night I was at a ball at the house of my cou- 
sin, Madame la Vicomtesse de Beauseant. She has a 
splendid house, rooms hung with silk ; in short, she 
gave us a magnificent fete, where I amused myself as 
much as a king " 

" Fisher," interpolated Vautrin. 

" Monsieur," said Eugene angrily, " what do you. 
mean ? " 

"I said fisher, because kingfishers amuse themselves 
a great deal better than kings." 

" Yes, indeed ; I 'd rather be a little bird that has 
no cares, than a king ; because because " said 
Poiret, man of echoes. 

" Well, anyway,'* continued the student, " I danced 
with one of the loveliest women at the ball, a 
charming countess, the most delightful creature I have 
ever seen. She wore peach-blossoms in her hair, and 
flowers at her waist, natural flowers of delicious fra- 
grance. Pshaw ! you ought to have seen her ; it is 
impossible to describe a lovely woman animated by 
dancing. Well, this morning I met this same divine 
countess about nine o'clock, on foot, in the Rue des 
Gres. Oh ! my heart jumped ! I fancied for a 
moment " 

" That she was coming here," said Vautrin, looking 
the young man through and through. " She was 

56 Pre Q-oriot. 

probably going to look up Papa Gobseck, the money- 
lender. Young man, if you ever get an insight into 
the hearts of Parisian women, you will find money- 
more potent there than love. Your countess's name 
was Annstasie de Restaud, and she lives in the Rue 
du Helder." 

At this the student turned and stared at Vautrin. 
Pere Goriot raised his head quickly and shot at the 
two speakers a glance so keen and anxious that he 
astonished the other guests who noticed him. " Chris- 
tophe will -get there too late ; she will have gone," he 
murmured sadly. 

" I guessed right, you see," said Vautrin, leaning 
over and whispering to Madame Vauquer. 

Goriot went on eating his breakfast without know- 
ing what he was doing; he sank back into himself, 
and never looked more stupid and self-absorbed than 
at this moment. 

" Who the devil, Monsieur Vautrin," cried Eugene de 
Rastignac, " could have told you that lady's name ? " 

"Ha, ha!" laughed Vautrin. "Pere Goriot knew 
it, why should n't I ? " 

" Monsieur Goriot ! " cried the student. 

"What did you say?" asked the poor old man. 
" Was she very beautiful last night ! " 


" Madame de Restaud." 

" Look at the old wretch ; how his eyes sparkle ! " 
whispered Madame Vauquer to her neighbor. 

"Yes, she was marvellously beautiful," replied 
Eugene, at whom Pere Goriot was now looking 
engerly. If Madame de Beauseant had been absent, 

Pre Goriot. 57 

my divine countess would have been queen of the ball. 
The young men had no eyes but for her. I was the 
twelfth written on her list ; she danced all the eve- 
ning. The other women were jealous of her. If any 
creature was happy last night, it was she. The old 
saying is true, the three most beautiful things in 
motion are a frigate under sail, a horse at full speed, 
and a woman dancing." 

" Last night at the top of the wheel, at the ball of a 
duchess ; this morning down in the mud in the shop 
of a money-lender," said Vautrin. " If their husbands 
cannot pay for their unbridled extravagance, they will 
get the money in other ways. They would rip open 
their mother's breasts to get the means of outshining 
their rivals at a ball." 

Pere Goriot's face, which at the praise of Madame de 
Restaud had lighted up like a landscape when the sun 
falls upon it, clouded over as he listened to these words. 

" Well," said Madame Vauquer, " how about your 
adventure, Monsieur Eugene ? Did you speak to her ? 
Did you ask her if she was coming into this neighbor- 
hood to study law?" 

" She did not see me," said Eugene ; "but to meet 
such a lady in the Rue des Gres at nine o'clock in the 
morning, a woman who could not have got home 
from the ball for some hours after midnight, does 
seem to me very singular. Paris is the only place for 
such strange things." " 

" Bah ! there are many far more strange," said 

Mademoiselle Taillefer had scarcely listened, so pre- 
occupied was she by the fresh effort she was about to 

58 Pere Goriot. 

make to see her father. Madame Couture made her 
a sign that it was time to dress; and when the two 
ladies rose and left the room Pere Goriot left also. 

" Did you notice him ? " said Madame Vauquer to 
Vautrin and the rest. " I am convinced those women 
are his ruin." 

" You will never make me believe," cried the stu- 
dent, "that the beautiful Comtesse de Restaud has 
anything to do with Pere Goriot 

"Who wants you to believe it?" said Vautrin, in- 
terrupting him. "You don't know Paris yet, you 
are too young. You '11 find out later that there are 
men absorbed by passions, a passion." At these 
words, Mademoiselle Michonneau raised her head and 
looked at him, like a war horse that hears the sound 
of a trumpet. " Ah ! " said Vautrin, interrupting him- 
self to send her a piercing glance ; " we know, do we, 
all about that ? Yes," he resumed, " such men pursue 
one idea, one passion, and never relinquish it. They 
thirst for one water, from one fountain, often stag- 
nant. To gain it they will sell wife and children, 
they will sell their own souls. For some this fountain 
is play, or stocks, collections of pictures, even in- 
sects, music. For others it is a woman who ministers 
to some taste ; to these you may offer every other 
woman upon earth, they will not look at them. 
They will have the woman who satisfies their want, 
whatever it is. Often this woman does not love them, 
nay, will ill-treat them, and despoil them, and make 
them pay dearly for small shreds of satisfaction. No 
matter, the fools will not let go ; they will pawn their 
last blanket for her sake, and bring her their last sou. 

PeVe G-oriot. 59 

Pere Goriot is one of these men. Your countess gets 
all she can out of him, he is safe and silent. The 
poor fellow has no thought except for her. Watch 
him : outside of this passion he is little more than a 
dumb animal ; rouse him about her, and his eyes spar- 
kle like diamonds. It is easy enough to guess his 
secret. He carried his bit of plate this morning to be 
melted ; I saw him afterwards going into Gobseck's, in 
the Rue des Gres. Now, mark! as soon as he got 
home he sent that simpleton Christophe to Madame 
de Restaud with a letter containing a cancelled note. 
Christophe showed us the address. It is clear that 
the matter was pressing, for the countess went herself 
to the old money-lender. Pere Goriot has been rais- 
ing money for her. It does n't take much cleverness 
to put two and two together here. And this shows 
you, my young student, that last night, when your 
countess was laughing and dancing and playing her 
tricks, and fluttering her peach-blossoms, and shaking 
out her gown, her heartf was down in the soles of her 
little satin slippers, thinking of some note of hers that 
was going to protest or, of her lover's." 

"You make me savage to know the truth," cried 
Eugene ; " I will go to-morrow and call on Madame 
de Restaud." 

" Yes, to-morrow," said Poiret ; " better call to- 
morrow on Madame de Restaud." 

" But, Paris ! " said Eugene, in a tone of disgust, 
" what a sink of iniquity your Paris must be." 

" Yes," replied Vautrin, " and a queer sink, too. 
Those who get muddy in their carriages are virtuous ; 
those who get muddy afoot are knaves. Hook a trifle 

60 Pere G-oriot. 

that is not your own, and they show you up on the 
Place du Palais de Justice as a public curiosity ; steal 
a million, and you are received in good society and 
called ' a clever fellow.' And you pay thirty millions 
annually to the law courts and the police to keep up 
that sort of morality ! Pah ! " 

" Do you mean to say," said Madame Vauquer, Ci that 
Pere Goriot has melted up his silver-gilt porringer?" 

" Were there two turtle-doves on the cover ?" asked 

" Yes, there were." 

" He must have cared for it. He wept when he 
broke it up. I happened to see him by chance," 
said Eugene. 

" He did care for it, as for his life," answered Madame 

" Now see the force of passion ! " said Vautrin. " That 
woman can wring his very soul." 

Eugene went up to his own chamber. Vautrin went 
out. A few minutes later Macfeme Couture and Victo- 
rine got into a hackney coach which Sylvie had called. 
Poiret gave his arm to Mademoiselle Michonneau, and 
they walked off together to wander in the Jardin des 
Plantes during the fine part of the day. 

" Don't they look almost married ? " said Sylvie. 
"They are so dried up that if they knock together, 
they '11 make sparks like flint and steel." 

"Look out, then, for Mademoiselle Michonneau's 
shawl, it will catch like tinder," observed Madame 

Pere Goriot. 61 


AT four o'clock, when Pere Goriot returned, he saw 
by the dim light of two smoky lamps Victorine Taille- 
fer sitting silent with red eyes, while Madame Couture 
was volubly relating the result of the visit made to the 
father. Tired of refusing to see his daughter and her 
old friend, Taillefer had granted them an interview. 

"My dear lady," Madame Couture was saying to 
Madame Vauquer, " would you believe me, he did not 
so much as ask Victorine to sit down ; she stood all the 
time that we were there. He told me, without any 
anger, but sternly, that we might for the future spare 
ourselves the trouble of coming; that mademoiselle 
(he did not say daughter) only injured herself by per- 
sisting in coming after him once a year! the mon- 
ster ! He said that as Victorine's mother had brought 
him no fortune, her daughter was not entitled to ex- 
pect any; in short, he said all kinds of cruel things 
which made the poor dear cry. She flung herself at 
her father's feet, and found courage to tell him that she 
only pressed her case for her mother's sake ; that she 
would obey him without a murmur if he would only 
read the last words of his wife. She offered him the 
letter, saying the most touching things you ever heard. 
I don't know where she got them ; God must have in- 
spired them, for the poor child was so carried away that 

62 Pere G-oriot. 

I, as I listened to her, wept like a fool. What do you 
suppose that brutal man did while she was speaking ? 
He pared his nails ! He took the letter which his poor 
wife had written with so many tears, and flung it into 
the fire, saying, ' That 's enough.' He tried to make his 
daughter get up from her knees : she wanted to kiss his 
hand, but he would not let her. Was n't it atrocious ? 
His great booby of a son came in while we were there, 
but he would not take any notice of his sister." 

" Can such monsters be ? " said Pere Goriot. 

" And then," continued Madame Couture, paying no 
attention to this interruption, " father and son walked 
off together, begging me to excuse them, and saying 
they had pressing business. So ended our visit. Well ! 
at any rate he has seen his daughter. I don't know how 
he can refuse to acknowledge her, for they are as like 
as two raindrops." 

All the guests now came in, one after another, wish- 
ing each other good day, and interchanging a style of 
jest by which certain classes of the Parisian world keep 
up a spirit of drollery of which sheer nonsense is the 
principal ingredient, the fun being chiefly confined to 
gesture and pronunciation. This sort of argot varies 
continually. The best joke never lasts over a month. 
An event in politics, a trial in the criminal courts, a 
street ballad, or an actor's jest, sets the fun afloat and 
keeps it going ; the amusement consisting, above all, 
in treating ideas and words like shuttlecocks, and ban- 
dying them to and fro with the utmost rapidity. 

Just at this time the invention of the diorama, an ex- 
hibition which carried optical illusion beyond that of 
the panorama, had set the artists in their studios to 

Pere Croriot. 63 

ending all their words in "rama." The fashion had 
been introduced into the Maison Vauquer by a young 
painter, one of the dinner guests. 

" Well, Monsieur-re Poiret," s.iid the employe at 
the Museum, " how goes your healthorama ? " Then 
not waiting for a reply, " Ladies," he said to Madame 
Couture and Victorine, "I regret to see that some- 
thing has gone wrong with you to-day." 

"Are we going to diniare?" cried Horace Bianchon, 
a medical student and a friend of Rastignac; "my 
little stomach has gone down usque ad talones" 

" It is a regular frostinorama" said Vautrin. "Draw 
back a little, Pere Goriot; your foot takes up the 
whole front of the stove." 

" Illustrious Vautrin," cried Bianchon, " why do you 
say frostinorama f That 's wrong ; you should say 

" No ! " cried the employe at the Museum, fo it is frost- 
inorama. I have frost in my toes." 

"Ha! Ha!" 

" Here comes his excellency the Marquis de Ras- 
tignac, Doctor of Laws," cried Bianchon, catching 
Eugene round the neck and hugging him till he 
was nearly strangled. 

" Oh ! oh ! Help, all of you ! Help ! Oh ! " 

Mademoiselle Miehonneau here entered stealthily, 
bowed silently to the guests, and took her place among 
the ladies. 

" That old bat of a woman makes me shiver," 
whispered Bianchon to Vautrin. " I am studying 
phrenology, and I tell you she has the bumps of 

64 Pere Goriot. 

"Do you know anything about her?" asked Vautrin. 

"Nothing but what I see. I give you my word 
of honor that her lanky whiteness puts me in mind 
of those long worms that eat their way through 

" I '11 tell you what she is, young man," said the 
man of forty, pulling his whiskers: 

" ' Rose, she has lived the life of a rose, 
The space of a summer's day ' " 

" Here comes a famous souporama" cried Poiret, as 
Christophe entered respectfully bearing the tureen. 

" Pardon me, Monsieur," said Madame Vauquer ; 
"it is soupe aux choux [cabbage soup]." 

All the young men burst out laughing. 

" Beaten, Poiret ! " 

" Poir-r-r-rette is done for ! " 

" Score two for Mamma Vauquer," cried Yautrin. 

" Did any one notice the fog this morning?" asked 
the employe. 

" It was a fog out of all reason," cried Bianchon ; 
" a fog without a parallel ; a dismal, melancholy, green, 
stupid kind of a fog, a fog Goriot." 

" Goriorama? cried the painter; "because it is no 
go when you want to see through it." 

" Ha ! my lord Goriot ; they are talking of you." 

Sitting at the lower end of the table, near the door 
opening on the pantry, Pere Goriot looked up at this, 
smelling, as he did so, at the piece of bread placed 
under his napkin, according to an old habit in sam- 
pling flour, which mechanically reappeared when he 
forgot himself at table. 

Ptre 6foriot. 65 

" Well ! " cried Madame Vauquer sharply, in a voice 
that rose above the general clatter ; " don't you find 
the bread good enough for you?" 

" It is very good, Madame," he replied ; " it is made 
of Etampes flour, first quality." 

" How do you know that?" asked Eugene. 

" By it's taste ; by it's color." 

" By the taste of the nose, you mean ; for you have 
done nothing but smell it," said Madame Vauquer. 
" You are getting so economical that by and by you 
will be trying to get your meals by sniffing the smells 
of the kitchen." 

" T;ike out a patent for the process," cried the em- 
ploye ; " you will make your fortune." 

" Let him alone; he does it to make us believe he real- 
ly has been engaged in selling flour," said the painter. 

" Is your nose a corn-chandler ? " asked the young 
man from the Museum. 

" Corn-what?" said Bianchon. 

" Corn-market." 

" Corn-stalk." 

" Corn-starch." 

" Corn-et." 

" Corn-er." 

" Corn-elian." 

" Corn-ucopia." 

" Corn-orama." 

These eight answers rattled from all parts of the 
table like a volley of musketry, and made everybody 
laugh, all the more when poor Pere Goriot looked 
round with an air of utter bewilderment, like a man 
trying to make out some meaning in a foreign tongue. 

66 Pere Goriot. 

"Cor?" he said to Vautrin, who sat next to him. 

"Corn, corns on your toes, old gentleman," said 
Vautrin. patting him on the head in such a way as to 
drive his hat down over his eyes. 

The poor old man, stupefied by this brusque attack, 
remained motionless for a moment, during which 
Christophe carried away his soup; so that when Pere 
Goriot, having taken off his hat, picked up his spoon 
to begin his dinner, it tapped upon the table instead 
of a plate. All present burst out laughing. 

"Monsieur," said the old man, "that was a poor 
joke; and if you give me any more such " 

"Well, what then, papa?" said Vautrin, interrupt- 
ing him. 

" Well, you shall pay dearly for it some day 

"Ah ! in the infernal regions, that 's it," said the 
painter ; " in the little black hole where they put 
naughty children." 

"Well, Mademoiselle!" said Vautrin, addressing 
Victorine ; " you seem to eat nothing. Was your 
papa refractory to-day ? " 

" He was horrible ! " said Madame Couture. 

" Ah ! " cried Vautrin ; " we must bring him to 

Rastignac, who was sitting next to Bianchon, said 
to him : 

"Mademoiselle can't bring an action for alimony, 
for she eats nothing. Eh ! eh ! just see how Pere 
Goriot is looking at her." 

The old man had stopped eating to gaze at the 
young girl, whose face was convulsed with grief, 
the grief of a child repulsed by the father she loves. 

Pere Goriot. 67 

" My dear fellow," said Rastignac in a whisper, " we 
are all astray about Pere Goriot. He is neither weak 
nor imbecile. Just turn a phrenological eye on him, 
and tell me how he strikes you. I saw him last night 
twist up a silver dish as if it had been wax ; and at 
this very moment his face shows that his mind is full 
of strange emotions. His life seems to me so myste- 
rious that it might be worth some pains to study him. 
Oh, very well, Bianchon ; you may laugh, but I 'm not 

" I grant you the man has a medical interest ; he is 
a case," said Bianchon. " If he '11 let me, I '11 dissect 

No, just feel his head." 

" I don't know about that ; his stupidity might be 

68 Pere Goriot. 


THE next day Rastignac, elegantly dressed, started 
about three o'clock in the afternoon to call upon Ma- 
dame de Restaud, indulging as he went along in those 
adventurous hopes which fill the lives of young men 
with varying emotions. In moods like these they take 
no account of obstacles or dangers ; success is their only 
vista ; life is made poetic by the play of imagination, 
and they are saddened or unhappy by the overthrow 
of projects that exist only in their unbridled fancy. If 
they were not handicapped by their ignorance and 
their timidity this social world of ours would be an 
impossibility. Eugene went along the muddy streets, 
taking every precaution to keep his boots clean ; and 
as he walked he turned over in his mind what he 
should say to Madame de Restaud, providing him- 
self with the repartees and witty sayings of an imagi- 
nary conversation, rehearsing phrases a la Talleyrand, 
and inventing tender scenes favorable to his project of 
pushing his future in society. He did get his boots 
muddy, however, and had to have them blacked and 
his trousers brushed in the Palais-Royal. "If I were 
rich," he said to himself as he changed a five-franc 
piece which he had put into his pocket ("in case of 
accident"), "I should have driven in a carriage to make 

Pere Groriot. 69 

my call, and could have thought things over at ray 

At last he reached the Rue du Helder, and asked for 
Madame de Restaud. With the silent wrath of a man 
certain of future triumph, he noticed the impertinent 
looks, of the lacqueys, who saw him crossing the court- 
yard on foot heralded by no sound of cai'riage wheels 
at the gate. Those looks were the more galling be- 
cause already he had been smitten by a sense of social 
inferiority on seeing, as he entered the courtyard, a 
fine horse in glittering harness attached to one of those 
exquisite cabriolets, which evince the luxury of extra- 
vagant existence and the habit of taking part in the 
pleasures of Parisian life. Eugene grew out of temper 
with himself. His brains, which he had stored with 
clever sayings, refused to work ; he became stupid. 
While waiting to know if the countess would receive 
him, he stood by a window in the antechamber, leaning 
his arm on the knob of its fastening and looking down 
mechanically into the courtyard. He thought he was 
kept waiting a long time, and would have gone away 
in displeasure had he not been gifted with that southern 
tenacity which works wonders if kept to a straight 

"Monsieur," said the footman, "Madame is in her 
boudoir, and is very much occupied ; she did not an- 
swer me. But if Monsieur will go into the salon, he 
will find some one there who is also waiting." 

Wondering within himself at the power possessed 
by servants to judge and to betray their masters by a 
word, Rastignac deliberately opened the door through 
which the man had just passed, wishing, perhaps, to 

70 Pere Goriot. 

prove to the lacqueys in attendance that he knew the 
ways of the house. But he brought up like a fool in a 
press-room, full of lamps and wardrobes, and an appa- 
ratus for warming bath-towels, which led to a dark 
passage and some back stairs. Smothered sounds of 
laughter in the antechamber behind him put the finish- 
ing stroke to his confusion. 

" Monsieur, the salon is this way," said the footman, 
with that false respect which is the last touch of 

Eugene stepped back with such precipitation that 
he knocked against a bath-tub, but happily held fast to 
his hat so that it did not fall into the water. At this 
moment a door opened at the end of the dark passage 
(which was lighted by a lamp), and Rastignac heard 
Madame de Restaud's voice, Pere Goriot's voice, and 
the sound of kisses. He went back into the ante- 
chamber, crossed it, followed the servant, and entered 
the first salon, where he took his station at a window 
which he saw at once must command the courtyard. 
He wanted to see if Pere Goriot could really be Pere 
Goriot. His heart beat violently as he remembered 
the horrible insinuations of Vautrin. The footman 
stood waiting to usher him through the door of an 
inner drawing-room, when out of it came an elegant 
young man, who said to the servant, crossly, 

" I am going, Maurice ; you can tell Madame la 
comtesse that I waited for her more than half an 

This gay young man of fashion, who evidently had 
the right of entrance, walked on, humming an Italian 
melody, until he came near the window at which 

Pere Goriot. 71 

Eugene was standing. He tried to see the face of the 
student, and he also wished to get a glimpse into the 

" Monsieur le comte had better stay a moment 
longer; Madame is now at liberty," said Maurice, go- 
ing back into the antechamber. 

At this moment Pere Goriot came out of the house 
near the porte-cochere, through a door that opened from 
the back stair-case. The old man raised his umbrella, 
and was about to open it without noticing that the 
gates had been thrown back to admit a young man 
wearing the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, who was 
driving himself in a tilbury. Pere Goriot had only 
time to step backward ; a moment more and he would 
have been run over. The opening of the umbrella had 
frightened the horse, which shied, and then dashed for- 
ward to the steps of the portico. The young man 
looked round angrily, saw Pere Goriot, and bowed to 
him with the constrained civility often bestowed upon 
a money-lender whom it is advisable to propitiate, or 
vouchsafed to some smirched man reluctantly, and with 
an after sense of shame. Pere Goriot returned it with 
a little friendly nod, full of kindness. These things 
passed like a flash. Too absorbed to notice that be 
was not alone, Eugene suddenly heard the voice of 
Madame de Restaud. 

" Maxirne, are you going ? " she cried in a tone of 
reproach, not un mingled with vexation. 

The countess had not noticed the arrival of the til- 
bury. Rastignac turned and saw her, dressed coquet- 
tishly in a breakfast gown of white cashmere 'with pink 
ribbons, her hair put up with the simplicity which is 

72 P$re Goriot. 

the morning fashion of Parisian women. A fragrance 
diffused about her seemed to suggest that she had just 
taken her bath ; her eyes were limpid, and her beauty 
was softened by an air of indolence and languor. Young 
men have the eyes to see these things ; their minds 
open to all the rays of a woman's charm as plants as- 
similate from the air they breathe the substances which 
give them life. Eugene felt the soft freshness of her 
hands without touching them ; he saw through the 
folds of her cashmere the lines of her beautiful figure. 
She needed no steels or lacings, a belt alone held in 
her flexible and rounded waist ; her feet were pretty 
even in their slippers. 

When Maxime raised her beautiful hand to his lips 
Eugene for the first time perceived Maxime, and 
Madame de Restaud perceived Eugene. 

" Ah ! is that you, Monsieur de Rastignac ? I am 
very glad to see you," she said in a tone which a man 
of the world would have accepted as a dismissal. 

Maxime looked first at Eugene and then at the 
countess with an expression which might well have ex- 
pelled the intruder. " What impertinence ! " it seemed 
to say ; " my dear, I hope you are going to show that 
puppy the door." 

Rastignac took a violent aversion to this man. In 
the first place, the blond and well-trimmed head of 
Maxime m.-tde him ashamed of his own hair ; then 
Maxima's boots were elegant and spotless, while on 
his, in spite of all his care, there were spots of mud. 
Maxime wore a frock-coat, which fitted him round the 
waist like the corset of a pretty woman ; Eugene, on 
the contrary, was wearing a black coat in the middle 

Pere Goriot. 73 

of the afternoon. The clever son of the Charente felt 
the advantages dress gave to this supercilious dandy 
with his tall slender figure, light eyes, and pale skin, 
a man, he thought to himsellj capable of bringing ruin 
on the fatherless. 

Meantime Madame de Restaud, without waiting for 
any reply, flitted back into the great salon, the lappets 
of her dress floating backward as she went, in a way 
that gave her the appearance of a butterfly on the 
wing. Maxime followed her ; Eugene, in a savage 
mood, followed Maxime ; and all three stood before 
the fireplace in the great salon. The student knew 
well enough that he was in the way of that odious 
Maxime ; but even at the risk of displeasing Madame 
de Restaud, he was determined to annoy him. Sud- 
denly he remembered seeing the young man at Madame 
de Beauseant's ball, and guessed what might be his rela- 
tions to Madame de Restaud ; but with that youthful 
audacity which makes a man commit great follies or 
secures him great successes, he said to himself, " That 
man is my rival. I will put him out of my way." 
Imprudent youth ! He did not know that Count 
Maxime de Trailles was a dead shot, always ready to 
take up an insult and kill his man. Eugene was a good 
sportsman, but he could not hit the mark nineteen 
times out of twenty in a shooting-gallery. The young 
count threw himself into an easy-chair by the fire, 
picked up the tongs, and tossed the wood about in so 
violent and savage a manner that the fair face of An- 
astasie clouded over with distress. She turned to 
Eugene and gave him one of those chill interrogative 
looks which plainly say, " Why don't you go away ? " 

74 Pere Goriot. 

to which well-bred people at once reply by what we 
may call the phrases of leave-taking. 

Eugene, however, put on an agreeable manner, and 
said, " Madame, I was in haste to see you, because " 

He stopped short, for a door opened, and the gentle- 
man who had driven into the courtyard entered the 
room. He was without a hat, and did not bow to the 
countess, but looked attentively at Rastignac, and held 
out his hand to Max! me saying, " Good morning," with 
an air of intimacy which greatly surprised Eugene. 

"Monsieur de Restaud, " said the countess to the 
student, motioning towards her husband. " Monsieur," 
she said, presenting Eugene to the Comte de Restaud, 
"is Monsieur de Rastignac, a relative of Madame de 
Beauseant, through the Marcillacs. I had the pleasure 
of meeting him at her ball." 

" A relative of Madame de Beauseant, through the 
Marcillacs" these words, uttered by the countess 
with a certain emphasis (for a lady likes to make known 
that she receives only those who are people of dis- 
tinction), had an almost magical effect. The count 
lost his coldly ceremonious air, and bowed to the 

" Delighted, Monsieur, to be able to make your ac- 
quaintance," he said courteously. 

Even Count Maxime de Trailles, casting an uneasy 
look at de Rastignac, abandoned his impertinent man- 
ner. This touch of a fairy wand, the magic of an aris- 
tocratic name, let a flood of light into the brain of the 
young southerner and gave him back his premeditated 
cleverness. He suddenly caught a glimpse into the 
great world of Paris, hitherto only cloud-land for him, 

Pere G-oriot. 75 

and the Maison Vauquer and Pere Goriot vanished 
from his thoughts. 

" I thought the Marcillacs were extinct?" said Mon- 
sieur cle Restaud to Eugene. 

" You are right, Monsieur," he replied ; " my great- 
uncle, the Chevalier de Rastignac, married the heiress 
of the house of Marcillac. They had only one daughter, 
who married the Marechal de Clarimbault, Madame de 
Beauseant's grandfather on the mother's side. We are 
the younger branch ; all the poorer for the fact that rny 
great uncle, the Vice- Admiral, lost his fortune in the 
service of the King. The Revolutionary government 
would not admit our claims when it wound up the 
affairs of the India Company." 

" Did not Monsieur, your great-uncle, command the 
' Vengeur ' previous to 1789 ? " 

" Precisely." 

" Then he must have known my grandfather, at that 
time commanding the ' Warwick.' " 

Here Maxime shrugged his shoulders slightly with a 
glance at Madame de Restaud, which meant, " If they 
begin to talk of naval affairs we shall not get a word 
with each other." 

Anastasie understood the look, and with the ease of 
a practised woman she smiled and said, " Come this 
way, Maxime ; I will show you what I want you to do 
for me. Gentlemen, we will leave you to sail in com- 
pany with the 'Warwick' and the 'Vengeur.'" 

She rose as she spoke, making a treacherous little 
sign to Maxime, and the two turned to leave the room. 
As this morganatic couple (morganatic is a pretty and 
expressive German word, which as yet has no equiva- 

76 Pere Goriot. 

lent in the French language) were leaving the room, 
the count stopped short in his conversation Witt 


Anastasie," he said sharply, " don't go, my dear ; 

you know very well " 

I shall be back in a moment," she said, interrupt- 
ing what he was about to say. " It will only take me 
a Second to tell Maxime what I want him to do." 

And she did come back. Like all women who study 
the character of their husbands that they may be able 
themselves to live as they please, she knew just how 
far she could go without straining his forbearance, and 
was careful not to offend him in the lesser things of 
daily life. She was now aware from the tone of his 
voice that it would not be safe to prolong her absence. 
These contretemps were due to Eugene. The countess 
expressed this by a glance and a gesture of vexation di- 
rected to Maxime, who said pointedly to the count, his 
wife, and de Rastignac, " I see you are all engaged. 
I do not wish to be in your way. Adieu," and he left 
the salon. 

Don't go, Maxime," cried the count. 
Come to dinner," said the countess, leaving Eugene 
and the count together for the second time, and fol- 
lowing Maxime into the outer salon, where they re- 
mained long enough, as they thought, for Monsieur de 
Restaud to get rid of his visitor. 

Eugene heard them laughing together, talking and 
pausing at intervals ; but the perverse youth continued 
his conversation with Monsieur de Restaud, nattering 
him and drawing him into discussions solely that he 
might see the countess again and find out the secret 

Pere Croriot. 7T 

of her relations to Pere Goriot. That this woman, 
evidently in love with Maxime, yet all-powerful with 
her husband, should be secretly connected in any way 
with the old paste-maker, seemed to him a singular 
mystery. He was resolved to penetrate it. It might 
give him, he thought, some power over a woman so 
eminently Parisian, that might serve the ends of his 

Anastasie," said the count, again calling her. 
Well, Maxime," she said to the young man, " we 
must put up with it. This evening " 

I do hope, Nasie," he whispered, "that you will 
give orders never to admit that young fool, whose 
eyes sparkle like live coals when he looks at you. He 
will make love to you and compromise you, and I 
shall have to kill him." 

"Don't be absurd, Maxime," she said ; "these little 
students are, on the contrary, very useful as light- 
ning-rods. Restaud shall be the man to deal with 

Maxime laughed, and left the countess standing at 
the window to see him get into his cabriolet and flour- 
ish his whip over the champing steed. She did not 
come back till the outer gates were closed. 

"Just think, my dear," said the count, as she en- 
tered ; " the country-seat of Monsieur's family is not 
far from Vertueil on the Charente. His great-uncle 
and my grandfather used to know each other." 

"Charmed to be so nearly connected," said the 
countess, with an absent manner. 

"Nearer, perhaps, than you think for," said Eugene 
in a low voice. 

78 Pere Goriot. 

" In what way ? " she said quickly. 

"Why," said the student, " I have just seen leaving 
your house some one whose room is next to mine in 
our pension, Pere Goriot." 

At the jovial word " Pere," so disrespectfully ap- 
plied, the count, who was mending the fire, flung 
down the tongs as if they burned his fingers, and 
started from his chair. 

"Monsieur, you might at least say Monsieur 
Goriot," he cried. 

The countess turned pale when she saw her hus- 
band's displeasure; then she blushed, and was evi- 
dently embarrassed. She replied in a voice which she 
strove to render natural, and with an air of assumed 
ease : " It is impossible to know any one whom we 
love more." Here she stopped ; and looking at her 
piano as if struck by a sudden thought, she said : 

"Do you like music, Monsieur? " 

" Very much," said Eugene, flushing, and stupefied 
by a confused sense that he must have committed 
some enormous blunder. 

"Do you sing?" she said, going to the piano and 
running a brilliant scale, from C in the bass to F in 
the treble, r-r-r-rah ! 

"No, Madame." 

Monsieur de Restaud was walking up and down the 

" That 's a pity ; you are cut off from one great 
means of social success. Ca-ro, ca-a-ro, ca-a-a-ro, non 
dubitare ! " sang the countess. 

By pronouncing the name of Pere Goriot, Eugene 
had for the second time waved a magic wand ; but its 

Pere Goriot. 79 

effect was the opposite of that produced by the words, 
"a relation of Madame de Beauseant." He was like a 
man introduced by favor into the cabinet of a collec- 
tor of curios, who touching thoughtlessly a case full 
of sculptured figures, knocks off by accident three or 
four heads which have been ill glued on. He felt 
like jumping into an abyss. The face of Madame de 
Restaud wore an expression of cold and hard indif- 
ference, and her eyes pointedly avoided his. 

" Madame," said he, " I leave you to converse with 
Monsieur de Restaud. Be pleased to accept my hom- 
age, and permit me " 

" Whenever you come to see us," said the countess 
quickly, cutting him short by a gesture, "you will be 
sure of giving Monsieur de Restaud and myself the 
greatest pleasure." 

Eugene bowed low to husband and wife, and went 
out, followed, in spite of his remonstrances, by Mon- 
sieur de Restaud, who accompanied him through the 

" Whenever that gentleman calls again," said the 
count to Maurice, " remember that Madame and I are 
not at home." 

When Eugene came out on the portico he found 
that it was raining. 

" Well," he said to himself, " I have made some 
horrible blunder, I don't know what it is, nor what 
it may lead to ; and now I am going to spoil my hat 
and clothes ! I 'd better have stayed at home grub- 
bing at law, and contented myself with being a coun- 
try magistrate. How am I to go into the world, when 
to get along with decency one must have lots of 

80 Pere Goriot. 

things, cabriolets, dress-boots, riggings that are ab- 
solutely indispensable, gold chains, buckskin gloves for 
the morning that cost six francs, and kid gloves for 
the evening? Old rogue of a Pere Goriot, vaf" 

When he found himself in the street the driver of a 
glass coach, who had probably j"st disposed of a bri- 
dal party and was ready to pick up a fare on his own 
account before returning to his stable, made a sign to 
Eugene, seeing him without an umbrella, in a black 
coat, white waistcoat, yellow gloves, and varnished 
boots. Eugene was in one of those blind rages which 
prompt young men to plunge deeper into the gulf 
they have fallen into, under the idea of finding some 
lucky way of getting out. He signed to the coach- 
man, and got into the carriage, where a few orange- 
blogsoms and scraps of silver ribbon attested the recent 
presence of a bridal party. 

" Where to, Monsieur ? " said the man, who had taken 
off his white gloves. 

" Hang it ! " thought Eugene, " since I am in for it 
I may as well get something out o it. To the Hotel 
Beauseant," he said aloud. 

" Which one? " asked the coachman. 

This question wholly confounded our embryo man 
of fashion, who was not aware that there were two 
Hotels Beauseants, and did not know how rich he was 
in grand relations to whom he was equally unknown. 

" Vicomte cle Beauseant, Rue " 

" De Crenelle," said the driver, nodding and inter- 
rupting the direction. "You see there's the hotel of 
the Cpmte and the Marquis de Beauseant, Rue Saint- 
Dominique," he added, putting up the steps. 

Pere Goriot. 81 

" I am aware of it," said Eugene dryly. " Is every- 
body laughing at me to-day?" he said to himself, an- 
grily flinging his hat upon the seat before him. " I 'm 
launched on a prank which is going to cost me a king's 
ransom. But at least I '11 pay a visit to my so-called 
cousin in a style that is solidly aristocratic. Pere 
Goriot has cost me not less than ten francs the old 
scoundrel ! Confound it ! I '11 tell the whole story 
to Madame de Beauseant ; perhaps it will make her 
laugh. She may know what bond of iniquity unites 
that old rat without a tail to his beautiful countess. 
I had better on the whole stick to my cousin, and not 
run after that shameless woman ; besides, I foresee 
it would be horribly expensive. If the very name 
of the Vicomtesse de Beauseant is so powerful, what 
immense weight her personal influence must have! 
Aim high, and put your trust in the Lord ! " 

These words contain the substance of the thousand 
and one thoughts which floated through his mind. He 
recovered some calmness and self-possession as he saw 
the rain falling, for he said to himself that if he was 
forced to part with two of his precious five-franc pieces 
they were well spent in saving his best coat and hat 
and boots. He heard, with a touch of hilarity, the 
coachman call " Gate, if you please ! " A Suisse, in red 
livery and gold lace, made it swing on its hinges, and 
Rastignac, with much complacency, saw his carriage 
pass in under the archway, turn round in the courtyard, 
and draw up under the roof of the portico. The coach- 
man, in a big great-coat of blue with red facings, let 
down the steps. As he got out of the carriage Eugene 
heard sounds of stifled laughter proceeding from the 

82 Pere Goriot. 

men-servants, three or four of whom were watching 
the bridal coach from the colonnade. Their mirth en- 
lightened the student, who now compared his vulgar 
equipage with one of the most elegant coupes in Paris, 
drawn by a pair of bay horses with roses in their head- 
stalls, that were champing their bits under the charge 
of a powdered coachman who kept a tight hand on 
his reins. In the Chaussee d'Antin the stylish cabrio- 
let of a dandy of twenty-six stood in the courtyard of 
Madame de Restaud, while in the Faubourg Saint- 
Germain waited, in all the pomp of a grand-seigneur, 
an equipage that thirty thousand francs would scarcely 
have paid for. 

" Who can that be?" thought Eugene, beginning to 
be conscious that in Paris all women of fashion have 
their private engagements ; and that the conquest of 
one of these queens of society might cost more money 
than blood. 

" The deuce ! my cousin too ma^ have her Maxime." 
He went up the broad front steps with a sinking 
heart. A glass door opened before him, and he found 
the footmen within looking, by this time, as solemn as 
donkeys under the curry-comb. The ball had been 
given in the state apartments which were on the 
ground-floor of the hotel. Having had no time to call 
upon his cousin between the invitation and the ball, he 
had not yet penetrated to her private apartments, and 
lie was now to see for the first time those marvels of 
personal elegance which indicate the habits and the 
tastes of a woman of distinction, a study all the 
more interesting because the salon of Madame de Res- 
taud had given him a standard of comparison. At 

Pere Goriot. 83 

half-past four the viscountess was visible ; five minutes 
earlier he would not have been admitted. Eugene, 
who knew nothing of these various shades of Parisian 
etiquette, was shown up the grand staircase, which was 
banked with flowers and was white in tone, with gilt 
balusters and a red carpet, to the rooms of Madame de 
Beauseant. Although she was his cousin he knew 
nothing of her biography, and was not aware that her 
affairs were at this time passing from ear to ear in the 
salons of Paris. 

84 Pere Goriot. 


FOR three years the Vicomtesse de Beauseant had 
been on terms of great intimacy with a wealthy and 
celebrated Portuguese nobleman, the Marquis d'Ad- 
juda-Pinto. It was one of those innocent friendships 
which have so great a charm for those who are thus 
allied that they cannot endure to share the companion- 
ship with others. The Yicomte de Beauseant himself 
set the example of respecting, willingly or unwillingly, 
this Platonic intimacy. Visitors who in the early days 
of the alliance came to call upon the viscountess at two 
o'clock always found the Marquis d'Acljuda-Pinto in 
her salon. Madame de Beauseant was not a woman 
to close her doors to society ; but she received her 
visitors so coldly, and her manner was so preoccupied, 
that they soon found out they were in her way at that 
hour. When it was understood in Paris that Madame 
de Beauseant preferred not to receive visitors between 
two and four o'clock, she was left in peace at those 
hours. She went to the Bouffons or the opera accom- 
panied by Monsieur cle Beauseant and Monsieur d'Ad- 
juda-Pinto ; but Monsieur de Beauseant had the tact to 
leave his wife with her friend the Portuguese after he 
had established her for the evening. Monsieur d'Ad- 
juda was now about to be married. lie was engaged 
to a Mademoiselle de Rochefide ; and in all society 

Pere Groriot. 85 

there was but one person who knew nothing of this en- 
gagement. That one was Madame de Beauseant. Some 
of her friends had indeed vaguely alluded to the event 
as possible ; but she had laughed, believing that they 
wished to trouble a happiness of which they were jeal- 
ous. The banns, however, were on the eve of being 
published ; and the handsome Portuguese had come to 
tell the viscountess on the day of which we write, but 
had not yet dared to put his treachery into words. 
There is nothing a man dreads more than to break to 
a woman the inevitable end of their relations. He 
would rather defend himself against another man's 
rapier pointed at his throat than meet the reproaches 
of a woman, who, after beAvailing her wrongs for hours, 
faints at his feet, and asks for salts. At this moment 
Monsieur d'Adjuda-Pinto sat on thorns and was think- 
ing of taking leave, saying to himself that Madame 
de Beauseant would surely hear the news from others ; 
that he would write to her ; and that it would be easier 
to administer the fatal stab by letter. When, there- 
fore, the footman announced Monsieur de Rastignac, 
Monsieur d'Adjuda-Pinto made a slight gesture of 
relief. Alas! a loving woman is more ingenious in 
perceiving her wrongs than in varying pleasures for 
the man she loves. When about to be forsaken, her 
instinct divines the meaning of a gesture as unerr- 
ingly as Virgil's courser divined in distant pastures 
the presence of his mares. Therefore we may be sure 
that Madame de Beauseant saw and understood that 
slight yet significant movement of relief. 

Eugene had not yet learned that before entering 
society in Paris a man should inform himself, through 

86 Pere Goriot. 

some friend of each family, about the history of hus- 
band, wife, and children, lest he commit any of those 
gross blunders which require him, as they say in Po- 
land, to " harness oxen to his carriage," meaning, 
doubtless, that the force of an ox-team alone can drag 
the blunderer out of the mud-hole into which he has 
plunged. If as yet there is no term in the French 
language for such conversational mistakes, it is be- 
cause they are practically impossible for Parisians by 
reason of the publicity which all kinds of scandal in- 
stantly obtain. After having gone heels over head 
into the mire at Madame de Restaud's, where he had 
no chance to harness his oxen, it seemed likely that 
our provincial might yet need the services of a team- 
ster by presenting himself at an equally inopportune 
moment at Madame de Beauseant's. However, if his 
visit had been horribly annoying to Madame de Res- 
taud and Monsieur cle Trailles, he was now, on the 
contrary, most welcome to Monsieur d'Adjuda. 

" Adieu," said this gentleman, making for the door 
as Eugene was shown into the charming inner draw- 
ing-room, all rose and gray, combining luxury with 

" But this evening ? " said Madame de Beauseant, 
turning from Eugene and looking after Adjuda ; " are 
we not going to the Bouffons?" 

" I cannot," he said, laying his hand on the door- 

Madame de Beauseant rose and called him back, 
without paying the least attention to Eugene, who 
was left standing, bewildered by the sparkle of great 
wealth, the reality, to his mind, of the " Arabian 

Pere Groriot. 87 

Nights.' and much embarrassed to know what to do 
with himself in the presence of a woman who took no 
notice of him. Madame de Beauseant lifted her right 
forefinger, and by a graceful gesture signed to the 
marquis to come back to her. There was something 
so passionately imperative in her air that he let go the 
handle of the door and came back into the salon. Eu- 
gene looked at him with eyes of envy. 

" That 's the man who owns the coupe," he said to 
himself. "Must one have blood horses, and liveries 
all covered with gold lace, to make one's way in Paris 
with a fashionable woman ?" 

The devil Belial bit into his mind; the fever of 
money-getting was in his veins ; the thirst for gold 
parched his heart. He had one hundred and thirty 
francs left, to last him three months. His father, 
mother, brothers, sisters, and aunt had but two hun- 
dred francs a month among them all. This rapid 
comparison of the realities of his position with the end 
that he was planning to attain, staggered him. 

" Why cannot you go to the theatre ? " said the vis- 
countess, smiling. 

"I have business. I dine with the English ambas- 

" But you can come away early." 

When a man deceives, he is forced to prop one false- 
hood by another. Monsieur d'Adjuda answered, 

" You insist, then ? " 

" Of course I do." 

" Ah ! that was just what I wanted to make you 
say!" he replied, giving her a look sufficient to reas- 

88 Pere Goriot. 

sure any other woman. He took her hand, kissed it, 
and went out. 

Eugene passed his fingers through his hair and 
turned toward Madame de Beauseant to make his 
bow, thinking she would now give her attention to 
him. To his surprise, she sprang from her chair, ran 
into the gallery, and looked out at Monsieur d'Adjuda 
as he got into his carriage. She listened for his or- 
ders, and heard the chasseur repeating to the coach- 
man, "To Monsieur de Rochefide's." 

These words, and the way d'Adjuda plunged into 
his coupe, were like a flash of lightning and a thunder- 
clap to the poor woman. She drew back sick with 
dread. The worst catastrophes in the great world 
take place thus quietly and suddenly. The viscountess 
turned aside into her bed-room, took a dainty sheet of 
note-paper, and wrote as follows : " When you have 
dined at the Rochefide's (and not at the English 
ambassador's), you owe me an explanation. I shall 
expect you." After straightening a few letters made 
illegible by the trembling of her hand, she added a 
C, which meant " Claire de Bourgogne," and rang the 

"Jacques," she said to her footman, "at half-past 
seven take this note to Monsieur de Rochefide's, and 
ask for the Marquis d'Adjuda. If he is there, have 
the note taken to him at once. There is no answer. 
If he is not there, bring it back to me." 

" Madame la vicorntesse has a visitor in the salon. 1 ' 

" Yes, true," she said, closing the door. 

Eugene began to feel very ill at ease ; but Madame 
de Beauseant at last came in and said in a voice whose 

Pere Goriot. 89 

emotion thrilled him to the heart, " I beg your pardon, 
Monsieur; I had to write a few words. Now I ana 
quite at your service." 

She did not know what she was saying. She was 
thinking, "Ah ! he must be going to marry Mademoi- 
selle de Rochefide. But will he? Can he? To-night 
this marriage shall be broken off, or I But, no ! it 
shall be!" 

" Cousin," said Eugene. 

"Hein?" said the viscountess, giving him a look 
whose cold displeasure froze his very blood. He under- 
stood her exclamation, for he had learned much during 
the last few hours, and his mind was on the alert. 

" Madame," he resumed, coloring ; he stopped short, 
and then continued, "forgive me; I need help so 
much, and this little shred of relationship would be 
everything to me." 

Madame de Beauseant smiled, but the smile was sad. 

"If you knew the situation of my family," he con- 
tinued, "I think you would find pleasure in playing 
the part of a fairy godmother who removes all difficul- 
ties out of the way of her godchild." 

" Well, cousin," she said laughing, " what can I do 
for you ? " 

" How can I tell you ? To be acknowledged as your 
relative, though the link is so far back as to be scarcely 
visible, is in itself a fortune. I am confused, I don't 
know what I had to say to you. You are the only 
person whom I know in Paris. Ah ! I ask your advice; 
look on me as you might on some poor child clinging 
to your dress, as one who would die for you." 

" Would you kill a man for my sake ? " 

90 Pere Goriot. 

u I would kill two ! " exclaimed Eugene. 

" Foolish boy ! for boy you are," she said, repress- 
ing her tears. " You could love truly, faithfully ? " 

"Ah !" he replied, throwing back his head. 

The viscountess felt a sudden interest in the youth, 
and smiled at his answer. This son of the south was 
at the dawn of his ambition. As he passed from the 
blue boudoir of Madame de Restaud to the rose-colored 
drawing-room of Madame de Beauseant he had taken 
a three-years' course in the social code of Paris, a 
code never formulated in words, but constituting a high 
social jurisprudence, which, if well studied and well 
applied, leads to fortune. 

" Already," said Eugene, " I was attracted at your 
ball by Madame de Restaud, and this morning I went 
to call upon her." 

" You must have been very much in her way," re- 
marked Madame de Beauseant. 

"Indeed I was. I am an ignoramus who will set 
everybody against him if you refuse to help me. I 
think it must be difficult in Paris to find a young, beau- 
tiful, rich, and elegant woman who is not already occu- 
pied by the attachment of some man. I need one who 
will teach me what you women know far better than 
we do, life. Unless you guide me I shall be forever 
stumbling on some Maxime de Trailles. I have come 
to ask you in the first place to solve a riddle and ex- 
plain to me the nature of a blunder I have committed 
at Madame de Restaud's. I mentioned a Pere " 

"Madame la Duchesse de Langeais," said Jacques, 
cutting short Eugene's words. He made a gesture as 
if greatly annoyed by the interruption. 

Pere G-oriot. 91 

" If you wish to succeed in society," said Madame 
de Beauseant, in a low voice, " you must begin by be- 
ing less demonstrative. Ah, good morning, dear," 
she cried, rising and going to meet the duchess, whose 
hands she pressed tenderly, while the duchess responded 
by fond little caresses. 

"They are dear friends," thought Rastignac; "heart 
answers to heart. I shall have two protectoresses, both 
taking interest in my future." 

" To what happy thought do I owe the pleasure of 
seeing you to-day, dear Antoinette ? " said Madame de 

"I saw Monsieur d'Adjuda-Pinto going into Mon- 
sieur de Rochetide's, and I knew that I should find 
you alone." 

Madame de Beauseant did not bite her lips, nor 
blush, nor did the expression of her face change ; on 
the contrary her bi'ow seemed to clear as Madame de 
Langeais uttered the fatal words. 

" If I had known you were engaged " added the 
duchess, glancing at Eugene. 

" Monsieur is Monsieur Eugene de Rastignac, one of 
my cousins," said Madame de Beauseant. " Have you 
heard," she continued, " of General Montriveau lately ? 
Serizy told me yesterday that no one sees him now. 
Has he been with you to-day ? " 

People said that the Marquis de Montrivean had 
broken with Madame de Langeais, who was deeply in 
love with him. She felt the intended stab, and blushed 
as she answered, He was at the Elysee yesterday." 

" On duty ? " asked Madame de Beauseant. 

" Clara, of course you know," said the duchess, spite 

92 Pere Goriot. 

gleaming in her eyes, " that to-morrow the banns are 
to be published between Monsieur d'Adjuda-Pinto and 
Mademoiselle de Rochefide." 

This blow struck home. The viscountess grew pale, 
but she answered, laughing, 

"That is merely a piece of gossip set afloat by 
people who know nothing. Why should Monsieur 
d'Adjuda-Pinto ally one of the noblest names in Por- 
tugal with that of the Rochefkles ? Their title dates 
from yesterday." 

" They say Berthe will have two hundred thousand 
francs a year." 

" Monsieur d'Adjuda is too rich to marry for money." 

"But, my dear Clara, Mademoiselle de Rochefide is 

Ah ! " 

" He dines there to-day ; the settlements are drawn ; 
I am astonished that no one has told you." 

" What was that blunder you were telling me about, 
Monsieur ? " said Madame de Beauseant, turning to 
Eugene. " Poor Monsieur de Rastignac has so re- 
cently entered the gay world, dear Antoinette," she 
continued, " that he cannot understand our conversa- 
tion. Be good to him, and put off all you have to say 
about this news until to-morrow. To-morrow we shall 
know it officially, and you can be just as officious then, 
you know." 

The duchess gave Eugene one of those ineffable 
looks which envelop a man from head to foot, strike 
him flat, and let him drop to zero. 

" Madame," he said, " without knowing what I was 
about, I seem to have plunged a dagger into the heart 

Pere G-oriot. 93 

of Madame de Restaud. Had I done this on purpose 
I might not have been in disgrace ; my fault lay in not 
knowing what I was doing." Eugene's natural clever- 
ness made him conscious of the bitterness underlying 
the affectionate words of the two ladies. " People," 
he added, " do not break with the friend who inten- 
tionally wounds them, though they may fear him for 
the future. But he who wounds unconsciously is a 
poor fool, a man of too little tact to turn anything 
to profit, and every one despises him." 

Madame de Beauseant gave the student a look that 
expressed her gratitude, and yet was full of dignity. 
This glance was balm to the wound inflicted by the 
duchess when she looked him over and over with the 
eye of a detective. 

"About my blunder you must know," resumed 
Eugene, "that I had succeeded in securing the good- 
will of Monsieur de Restaud, for " turning to the 
duchess with a manner partly humble, partly mischiev- 
ous, " I ought to inform you, Madame, that I am as 
yet only a poor devil of a law-student, very lonely, 
very poor " 

" Never say so, Monsieur de Rastignac ; we women 
do not value that which is not valued by others." 

" But," said Eugene, " I am only twenty-two, and I 
must learn to put up with the natural misfortunes of 
my age. Besides, I am making my confession : could 
I kneel in a more charming confessional ? Here we 
commit the sins for which we receive penance in 
the other." 

The duchess listened to these irreligious remarks with 
studied coldness, and marked her sense of their bad 

94 Pere G-oriot. 

taste by saying to the viscountess : " Monsieur has 
just arrived ? " 

Madame de Beauseant laughed heartily both at her 
cousin and at the duchess. " Yes," she said, " he has 
just arrived in Paris, my dear, in search of a precep- 
tress to teach him taste and manners." 

" Madame la duchesse," said Eugene, " is it not per- 
missible to try to possess ourselves of the secrets of 
those who charm us ? There ! " he said to himself ; 
"now I am talking just like a hair-dresser " 

"But I have heard that Madame de Restaud is a 
pupil of Monsieur de Trailles," said the duchess. 

" I did not know it, Madame," resumed the student ; 
" and like a fool I broke in upon them. However, I 
was getting on very well with the husband, and the 
wife had apparently made up her mind to put up with 
me, when I must needs tell them that I recognized a 
man whom I had just seen leave their house by a bnck 
door, and who kissed the countess at the end of the 
passage " 

" Who was it?" exclaimed both ladies at once. 

" An old man, who lives for two louis a month in the 
Faubourg Saint-Marc,eau, where I, a poor student, live 
myself ; a forlorn old man, whom we all ridicule and 
call Pere Goriot." 

"Oh, child that you are !" exclaimed the viscount- 
ess ; " Madame de Restaud was a Mademoiselle 

"Daughter of a man who makes vermicelli," said 
the duchess; "a person who was presented at court 
on the same day as a pastry-cook's daughter. Don't 
you remember, Clara ? The king laughed, and said a 

Pere Goriot. 95 

good thing in Latin about flour people how was 
it ? People " 

u JEjusdem farince" suggested Eugene. 

" That was it ! " said the duchess. 

" And so he is really her father ? " exclaimed the 
student, with a gesture of disgust. 

" Just so ; the man had two daughters, and was 
quite foolish about them. Both of them have since 
cast him off." 

" The youngest," said Madame de Beauseant, ad- 
dressing Madame de Langeais, " is married, is she not, 
to a banker with a German name, a Baron de Nu- 
cingen ? Is not her name Delphine, a fair woman, 
who has a side box at the opera, and who comes to 
the Bouffons, and laughs a great deal to attract 
attention ? " 

The duchess smiled as she answered, "My dear, 
you astonish me. Why do you care to know about 
such people ? A man must be madly in love, as they 
say Restaud was with Mademoiselle Anastasie, to 
powder himself with flour. Ah ! but he made a poor 
bargain! She has fallen into Monsieur de Trailles' 
hands, and he will ruin her." 

"Did you say that they have cast off their father?" 
asked Eugene. 

" Yes, indeed ; their father, the father, a father," 
cried the viscountess ; " a good father, who gave these 
daughters all he had, to each of them seven or 
eight hundred thousand francs, that he might secure 
their happiness by great marriages, and kept for him- 
self only eight or ten thousand francs a year ; thinking 
that his daughters would remain his daughters, that 

96 Pere Q-oriot. 

he would have two homes in his old nge, two families 
where he would be adored and taken care of. Before 
three years were over, both sons-in-law cast him out 
as if he had been the veriest wretch living 

Tears gathered in the eyes of Eugene de Rastignac, 
who had recently renewed the pure and sacred ties of 
home, and still clung to the beliefs of his boyhood. 
He was making his first encounter with the world on 
the battle-field of Parisian civilization. Real feeling 
is contagious ; and for a moment all three looked at 
each other in silence. 

" Good heavens ! " said Madame de Langeais ; " it 
seems horrible ; and yet we see the same thing every 
day. And why? My dear Clara, have you never 
thought what it would be to have a son-in-law? A 
son-in-law is a man for whom we may bring up you 
or I a dear little creature to whom we should be 
bound by a thousand tender ties ; who for seventeen 
years would be the darling of the family, 'the white 
soul of her home,' as Lamartine says, and who might 
end by becoming its curse. When the man for whom 
we brought her up takes her away, he will use her love 
for him as an axe to cut her free from every tie that 
binds her to her family. Yesterday our little daugh- 
ter was our own, and we were all in all to her ; to- 
morrow she will seem to be our enemy. Don't we 
see such tragedies around us every day? The daugh- 
ter-in-law coolly impertinent to the father who has 
sacrificed everything for her husband, the son-in-law 
thrusting his wife's mother out of doors ? I hear peo- 
ple say that there is nothing dramatic now-a-days in 
society. Why, this drama of the son-in-law is horrible, 

Pere Goriot. 97 

not to speak of o\ir marriages, which have become 
sad follies, to say the least. I perfectly recollect the 
history of that vermicelli man, Foriot " 

" Goriot, Madame." 

"Yes, true; JVIoribt was president of his section 
during the Revolution. He was behind the scenes, 
and when the great scarcity was at hand he made his 
fortune by selling flour for ten times what it cost him. 
My grandmother's bailiff sold him wheat to an im- 
mense amount. Goriot no doubt divided his profits 
as all those people did with the Committee of Pub- 
lic Safety. I recollect the bailiff saying to my grand- 
mother that she might feel quite safe at Grandvilliers, 
because her crops were an excellent certificate of citi- 
zenship. Well ! this Loriot, who sold flour to the men 
who cut our heads off, had but one passion, he adored 
his daughters. He contrived to perch the eldest in 
the Restaud family, and graft the other on the Baron 
de Nucingen, a rich banker who pretends to be a 
Royalist. You understand that during the Empire 
the sons-in-law did not so much mind having the old 
Jacobin of '93 under their roof : under Bonaparte 
what did it signify ? But when the Bourbons came 
back, the old man was a great annoyance to Monsieur 
de Restaud, and still more so to the banker. The 
daughters, who for aught I know may have been fond 
of their father, tried to 'run with the hare and hold 
with the hounds,' as we say. They asked Goriot to 
their houses when they had nobody there ; invented, 
I have no doubt, pretty pretexts : ' Oh, do come, 
papa ! It will be so pleasant : we shall have you all 
to ourselves,' and so on. My dear, I always main- 

98 Pere Goriot. 

tain that real feeling is sharp-sighted ; if so, poor old 
'93's heart must have bled. He saw that his daughters 
were ashamed of him, and that if they loved their 
husbands he was injuring them. He saw the sacrifice 
which was required of him, and he made it, made 
it as only a father can. He sacrificed himself ; he 
banished himself from their homes ; and when he saw 
his daughters happy he was satisfied. Father and 
daughters were accomplices in this crime against pa- 
ternity. We see this sort of thing every day. You 
can well imagine Pere Doriot to have been like a spot 
of cart-grease in his daughters' drawing-rooms. He 
would have felt it himself, and suffered from it. What 
happened to him as a father, my dear, happens to the 
prettiest woman in the world with the man she loves 
best. If her love wearies him he will go elsewhere, 
and will treat her like a coward to get away. That is 
the upshot of all extravagant attachments. The heart 
is a treasury : empty it all at once, and you will find 
yourself ruined. We think just as little of those who 
expend all their love as we do of a man who flings 
away his last penny. This father gave his all. For 
twenty years he had lavished his love, his life, on these 
two girls ; his fortune he gave them in one day. The 
lemon was squeezed, and the daughters flung the rind 
into the gutter." 

" The world is infamous 1 " said the viscountess, 
fringing her ribbon and not looking up, for Madame 
de Langeais' allusions to herself as she told the story 
cut her to the quick. 

"Infamous? No," replied the duchess. "The 
world goes on its own way, that is all. I only want 

Pere G-oriot. 99 

to prove to you that I am not its dupe. Yes, I think 
as you do," she added, taking the viscountess's hand, 
" if the world is a slough, let us stand upon high ground 
and keep ourselves out of the slime." 

She rose and kissed Madame de Beauseant on the 
forehead, saying, " You are lovely at this moment, 
dear heart ; you have the prettiest color I ever 
saw," and she left the room with a slight bow to the 

"Pere Goriot is sublime!" cried Eugene, remember- 
ing how he had seen him destroy his pieces of silver 
in the night-time. 

Madame de Beauseant did not hear him; she was 
thinking deeply. A few moments passed in silence, 
and our poor youth, in a stupor of shyness, dared 
neither go nor stay, nor speak to her. 

"The world is wicked it is cruel," said the vis- 
countess at last. " When misfortune overtakes us 
there is never a friend wanting to tell it in our ear ; to 
probe our heart with a dagger and ask us to admire 
the hilt. Already sarca'sm ! already the mocking 
tongues ! Ah ! I will defend myself!" She lifted her 
head, like the grande dame (the great lady) that she 
was, and her eyes flashed. " Ah !" she exclaimed, see- 
ing Eugene, " you here ? " 

" Still here," he answered humbly. 

" Monsieur de Rastignac," she said, " learn to treat 
society as it deserves. You wish to succeed in it ; I 
will help you. You will find out how deep is the cor- y 
ruption among women ; how wide the range of the ' 
contemptible vanity of men. I thought myself well 
read in the book of the world ; I find pages hitherto 

100 Pdre Groriot. 

unknown to me. Now I know all. The more cold- 
blooded your purpose the surer you will be of success. 
Strike without pity, and the world will fear you. Treat 
men and women as post-horses : never mind if you 
founder them, so long as they get you to the next relay. 
In the first place, you will make no progress unless 
you find some woman to take you up and be interested 
in you. She must be young, rich, and elegant. But 
if you really care for her, hide your feelings ; don't let 
her suspect them, or you are lost : instead of being the 
executioner, you will be the victim. If you love, keep 
your own secret. Never reveal it until you know well 
the friend to whom you bare your heart. Learn to 
mistrust the world. Let me tell you, Miguel [she did 
not notice her mistake], there is something in those 
Goriot sisters even more shocking than their neglect 
of their father, whom they wish dead. I mean their 
rivalry to each other. Restaud is of ancient family ; 
his wife has been adopted by his relatives and pre- 
sented at court. But her sister, her rich sister, the 
beautiful Madame Delphine de Nucingen, though the 
wife of a man made of money, is dying with envy, 
the victim of jealousy. She is a hundred leagues lower 
in society than her sister. Her sister is no longer her 
sister; they renounce each other as they both re- 
nounced their father. Madame de Nucingen would 
lap up all the mud between the Rue Saint-Lazare and 
the Rue de Grenelle to gain admittance to my salon. 
She thought deMarsay could arrange it for her, and she 
has been the slave of de Marsay, and bored people with 
de Marsay. De Marsay cares very little for her. My 
cousin, here is your opportunity. If you present her 

Pert Goriot. 101 

to me she will adore you, and lavish everything upon 
you. You may adore her if you can, but at any rate 
make use of her. I will let her come here to two or 
three balls, but only to balls, with the crowd; I will 
never receive her in the morning. I will bow to her, 
and that will be quite enough. You have shut her 
sister's doors against you by pi-onouncing the name 
of Pere Goriot. Yes, my dear cousin, you may call 
twenty times at Madame de Kestaud's, and twenty 
times you will be told that she is out. Orders have 
been given to refuse you admission. Well, make Pere 
Goriot introduce you to her sister ; wear the colors 
of the handsome Madame Delphine de Nucingen ; let 
it be known that you are the man she distinguishes, 
and other women will go distracted about you. Her 
rivals, her friends, her dearest friends, will try to 
win you from her. Some women prefer a man who is 
the property of another woman, just as women of the 
middle class think they acquire our manners when they 
copy our millinery. You will succeed ; and in Paris 
success is everything, it is the key to power. If wo- 
men think you clever, men will believe you so unless 
you undeceive them. From this point you may aim at 
what you will, you have your toot upon the ladder. 
You will fiud out that society is a mixture of dupes 
and cheats. Try to be neither the one nor the other. 
My cousin, I give you my name, like the clew of Ari- 
adne, to lead you into the heart of the labyrinth. Do 
not disgrace it," she added, turning to him with the 
glance of a queen ; " give it back to me unsullied. Now 
leave me. Women have their battles to fight as well 
as men." 

102 Pere Croriot. 

" If you need a man ready to fire a mine for you " 
began Eugene. 

What if I should ? " she cried. 

He laid his hand upon his heart, smiled in answer to 
her smile, and went out. 

It was five o'clock ; he was very hungry and half 
afraid he should not get home in time for dinner. This 
fear made him appreciate the advantages of whirl- 
ing along in his glass coach. The fast motion made 
his mind run on the new thoughts that assailed him. 
When a youth of his age meets with a rebuff' he loses 
his temper, he grows furious, shakes his fist at socie- 
ty, and vows to be revenged ; but at the same time 
his confidence in himself is shaken. Rastignac was 
overwhelmed by the words still ringing in his ears, 
" You have closed the doors of the countess against 

" I will 'call there again and again," he cried ; "and 
if Madame de Beauseant is right, if she has given 
orders not to admit me, I Madame de Restaud 
shall meet me at every house she visits I will make 
myself a sure shot ; I will kill her Maxime." 

" But how about money ? " cried a voice within 
him. " Where will you get it ? You need money for 

At this thought, the wealth that shone round Ma- 
dame de Restaud glittered before his eyes. He had 
seen her lapped in luxury that was doubtless dear to 
a demoiselle Goriot ; gilded and costly ornaments lay 
strewn about her salons with the unmeaning profusion 
that betrays the taste of a parvenue and her passion 
for squandering money. The fascinations of mere 

Pere Goriot. 103 

costliness had been effaced by the grandeur of the 
Hotel Beauseant. His imagination now whirled him 
to the summits of Parisian life, and suggested thoughts 
which seared his heart, while they stimulated his in- 
telligence and widened his perceptions. He saw the 
world in its true colors. He saw wealth triumphant 
over morality, triumphant over law and order. He 
saw in riches the ultima ratio mundi. " Vautrin is 
right," he cried, " luck makes the difference between 
vice and virtue." 

Having reached the Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve, 
he ran rapidly to his room and returned bringing ten 
francs for his coachman, and then entered the sicken- 
ing dining-room where the eighteen guests sat eating 
their food like animals at a manger. The sight of their 
collective poverty and the dinginess of the place were 
horrible to him. The transition from the wealth and 
grace and beauty he had left was too abrupt, too com- 
plete, not to excite beyond all bounds his growing am- 
bition. On the one hand fresh and lovely images of 
all that was elegant in social life, framed in marvels of 
art and luxury, and passionate" with poetical emotion ; 
on the other, a dark picture of degradation, sinister 
faces where passions had blighted all but the sinews 
and the mere mechanism. The advice wrung from 
Madame de Beauseant in her anguish, and her tempting 
offers to his ambition came back to his memory, and the 
misery about him was their commentary. He resolved 
to open two parallel trenches, law and love; and 
to win fortune by his profession and as a man of the 
world. Child that he was ! these lines are geometric 
aliens, asymptotes that never touch. 

104 Pere Goriot. 

" You are solemn, Monsieur le marquis," said Vau- 
trin, giving him one of those keen glances by which 
this singular man seemed to catch the hidden thoughts 
of those around him. 

" I am not disposed to permit jokes from people who 
call me Monsieur le marquis," Eugene replied. "To 
be a marquis in Paris requires an income of a hundred 
thousand francs, and those who live in the Maisou 
Vauquer are not exactly favorites of fortune." 

Vautrin looked at Rastignac with a patronizing air, 
which seemed to say contemptuously, " You young 
brat ! I could gobble you up at a mouthful ; " but he 
answered, " You are in a bad humor because you have 
not succeeded with the beautiful countess." 

" She has shut her doors against me for saying that 
her father dined here with me at this table," cried 
Eugene angrily. 

All present looked at one another. Pere Goriot 
looked down and turned aside to wipe his eyes. 

" You have blown your snuff into my face," he said 
to his neighbor. 

" Whoever annoys Pere Goriot will answer for it to 
me," cried Eugene, looking at the man who sat next 
to the old paste-maker. "He is better than any of 
us. I don't include the ladies," he added, bowing to 
Mademoiselle Taillefer. 

This speech brought the matter to a conclusion, for 
Eugene had uttered it in a way to silence all the others 
except Vautrin, who said sarcastically, " If you are 
going to take up Pere Goriot and make yourself re- 
sponsible for all lie says and does, you will have to 
learn to use a sword and fire a pistol." 

Pere Groriot. 105 

" I mean to," said Eugene. 
t " You declare war then ?" 

" Perhaps I do," replied Rastignac ; " but I owe no 
man an account of my conduct, especially as I don't 
try to find out what other people are doing in the 
middle of the night." 

Vautrin shot a side-glance at him. 

" My young friend," said he, " those who don't want 
to be deceived at a puppet-show had better go into the 
booth and not try to peep through holes in the curtain. 
That 's enough for the present," he added, seeing that 
Eugene was about to reply ; " we will have a little talk 
by ourselves whenever you like." 

The rest of the dinner passed in silence. Pere 
Goriot, absorbed by the pang of hearing Eugene's re- 
mark about his daughter, was not conscious that a 
change had taken place concerning him in the opinion 
of others, and that a young man able to put his perse- 
cutors to silence had taken up his defence. 

" Can it be possible," said Madame Vauquer, in a 
whisper, " that Pere Goriot is really the father of a 
countess ? " 

"And of a baroness, too," said Eugene. 

" The father is all there is of him," said Bianchon to 
Rastignac. " I have felt his head. It has run to one 
bump, philoprogenitiveness, the bump of paternity. 
He is all father Eternal Father, I should say." 

Eugene was too preoccupied to laugh. He was con- 
sidering how to profit by Madame do Beauseant's ad- 
vice, and in what way he could provide himself with 
money. He was silent and self-absorbed as he saw 
the rich plains of high society stretching afar as in a 

106 PeVe Goriot. 

vision. The others rose and left him alone when 
dinner was over. 

"You have seen my daughter?" said Goriot in a 
voice which betrayed emotion. 

Startled from his meditation, Eugene took the old 
man by the hand and said, as he looked at him almost 

"You are a good and honorable man. "We will talk 
by and by about your daughters," and without allow- 
ing Pere Goriot to say more he went to his room and 
wrote the following letter to his mother : 

MY DEAR MOTHER, See if you cannot provide for your 
grown-up son out of your own breast as you did for him in 
his infancy. I am in a position which may speedily lead to 
fortune. I want twelve hundred francs, and 1 must have them 
at any price. Do not speak of this to my father. He might ob- 
ject ; and if I cannot get this money I shall be in such despair 
as to be almost ready to blow my brains out. I will tell you all 
about it when I see you, for I should have to write volumes 
if I tried to explain to you the situation. I have not gambled, 
dear mother, and I have no debts ; but if you want to preserve 
the life you gave me, you must manage to find me this money. 
I have been to visit the Vicomtesse de Beauseant, who takes 
me under her protection. I have to go into society, and I have 
not a sou to buy gloves to wear. I would willingly eat noth- 
ing but bread, and drink nothing but water ; I could live on 
almost nothing if necessary, but I cannot do without my tools 
to work with, tools which cultivate the vines in tbis part of 
the world. I must either make my way or stay in a mud-hole. 
I know what hopes you have placed on me ; and I want as 
soon as possible to realize them. Dearest mother, sell some 
of your old jewels ; before long I will give them back to you. 
I know the situation of our family well enough to appreciate 

Pere Goriot. 107 

such sacrifices, and you may be sure that I would not ask you 
to make them in vain, if I did I should be a monster. I 
beseech you to see in this request a cry of imperative necessity. 
Our future depends on this loan, with which I can open my 
campaign, tor this life of Paris is a ceaseless battle. If 
to make up the sum there is no other resource than to sell my 
aunt's old lace, tell her I will hereafter send her some far more 
beautiful, etc. 

He wrote also to his sisters, begging them to send 
him all their little savings ; and as it was necessary 
that this sacrifice (which he knew they would make 
gladly for his sake) should not come to the ears of his 
parents, he enlisted their delicacy by touching those 
chords of honor which ring so true in the hearts of 
innocent young girls. 

After writing these letters, he was assailed by doubts 
and fears ; he panted and trembled. His ambitious 
young heart knew the pure nobleness of those tender 
souls hidden away in the country solitudes ; he knew 
what privations he was bringing on the sisters, yet 
with what joy they would welcome his request. He 
could hear them whispering in the distant fields of the 
"dear, dear brother ;" he saw them counting over their 
little hoard, inventing girlish devices to send it to him 
secretly, practising a first deception for his sake. 
His conscience leapt to the light. " A sister's heart is 
like a diamond," he said to himself; " a running stream 
of tenderness, clear and pure." 

He was ashamed of what he had written. How 
they would pray for him ! How they would lift their 
souls to Heaven for his success ! With what passion- 
ate delight they would sacrifice themselves for his 

108 Pere Goriot. 

advantage ! How grieved his mother would be if she 
could not send him the whole sum ! And all this good- 
ness, all these sacrifices, were to serve him ns a ladder 
to mount into the favor of Delphine de Nucingen ! A 
few tears grains of incense flung for the last time 
on the sacred altar of his home dropped from his 
eyes. He walked up and down the room in a state of 
agitation and despair. Pere Goriot seeing him thus, 
for the door of his room was left ajar, came in and 

" Is anything the matter, Monsieur ? " 

" Ah ! my good neighbor," Eugene replied ; " I am 
a son and a brother, even as you are a father. You 
may well tremble for the Countess Anastasie. She is 
in the power of Monsieur de Trailles, and he will be 
her ruin." 

Pere Goriot drew back to his own room, muttering 
a few words whose meaning was not intelligible. 

The next morning Rastignac went out and posted 
his letters. He hesitated up to the last moment ; but 
as he flung them into the box he cried, " I will suc- 
ceed ! v So says the gambler; so says the great com- 
mander. Superstitious words, that have ruined more 
men than they have ever saved ! 

Pere Croriot. 109 


A FEW days later Eugene went again to call on 
Madame de Restaud, and was not received. Three 
times he tried her door, and three times he found it 
closed against him, though he chose hours when he 
knew Monsieur Maxime de Trailles was not there. 
Madame de Beauseant was right : he was to visit her 
no more. 

Our student now ceased to study. He went to 
the Law School merely to answer at roll-call ; when 
that was. over he decamped. He had persuaded him- 
self, as students often do, that he might as well put 
off study until it was time to prepare for the exam- 
inations. He resolved to take his second and third 
terms together, and to study law with all his might at 
the last moment. He could thus count on fifteen 
months of leisure in which to navigate the ocean of 
Paris, to try what women's influence might do for him, 
and find the way to fish for fortune. 

During this week he called twice on Madame de 
Beauseant, taking care not to go till he had seen the 
carriage of Monsieur d'Adjuda-Pinto driven out of the 
courtyard. For a little while this distinguished woman, 
the most poetic figure in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, 
remained mistress of her field of battle. She broke 
off for a time the engagement of Monsieur d'Adjuda- 

110 Pere Goriot. 

Pinto to Mademoiselle de Rochefide ; but these last 
days of intimacy, made feverish by fears that she must 
finally lose her friend, only served to precipitate the 
catastrophe. Both the marquis and the Rochefides 
looked on the estrangement and reconciliation as for- 
tunate circumstances. They hoped that Madame de 
Beauseant would gradually grow reconciled to the 
marriage, and by sacrificing the daily visits hitherto 
so dear to her, permit the marquis to fulfil the destiny 
that belongs to every man. He himself was playing a 
part, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary 
made daily to Madame de Beauseant. She, meantime, 
though not deceived, liked his efforts to deceive her. 
"Instead of bravely jumping out of the window, she 
has preferred to roll down stairs step by step," said 
her best friend the Duchesse de Langeais. Still, these 
final moments lasted long enough to let the viscountess 
launch her young relative, to whom she had taken an 
almost superstitious fancy, upon the Paris world. He 
had shown himself full of feeling for her at a time 
when women find small pity or sympathy from others ; 
if a man utters tender words at such a time, he usually 
does it on speculation. 

For the purpose of knowing his ground before lay- 
ing siege to Madame de Nucingen, Eugene tried to 
learn all he could about the early history of Pere 
Goriot ; and he gathered certain accurate information, 
which may briefly be given here. 

Jean Joachim Goriot had been, before the Revolu- 
tion, a journeyman vermicelli-maker; skilful, frugal, 
and sufficiently successful to buy up the business of his 
master when the latter was killed by chance in the first 

P$re Goriot. Ill 

insurrection of 1789. His place of business was in 
the Rue Jussienne, near the Halle aux Bles (Corn- 
market) ; and he had the sound good sense to accept 
the office of president of the section, and thus secure 
for his business the protection of the persons who had 
most influence in those dangerous times. This fore- 
sight laid the foundation of his fortune, which began 
in the time of the great scarcity, real or pretended, 
in consequence of which flour went up to enormous 
prices in Paris. People trampled each other to death 
at the shops of the bakers, while others quietly bought 
the Italian pastes without difficulty from the grocers. 
That year Citizen Goriot acquired capital enough to 
carry on his future business with all the advantages of 
a man who has plenty of ready money. During the 
worst days of the Revolution he escaped through a 
circumstance which he shared with other men of lim- 
ited capacity, his mediocrity saved him. Moreover, 
as he was not known to be rich until the danger of 
being so was at an end, he excited no envy. The 
flour market seemed to have absorbed all his faculties. 
In any matter that had to do with wheat, flour, or 
refuse grain, whether it were to sample their various 
qualities or know where they could best be bought ; to 
keep them in good order or foresee the markets ; to 
prophesy the results of a harvest, bad or bountiful, 
and buy breadstuffs at the right moment or import 
them from Sicily or southern Russia, Fere Goriot 
had not his equal. To see him at his desk explaining 
the laws that regulate the importation of grain, ex- 
posing their influence upon trade, and pointing out 
their deficiencies, he might have been thought fit for 

112 Pre G-oriot. 

a cabinet minister. Patient, active, energetic, alwnys 
on hand, quick to seize an advantage in business, he 
had the eye of an eagle in his trade. He foresaw 
everything, provided for everything, knew everything, 
and kept his own counsel. Diplomatist in laying his 
plans, he was a general in executing them. But take 
him away from his specialty, from his little dark 
shop, on the threshold of which he spent his leisure 
moments leaning against the post of its street door, 
and he fell back into a mere journeyman, rough, stu- 
pid, incapable of understanding an argument, insensi- 
ble to mental enjoyment ; a man who would go to 
sleep at the theatre, and whose only strong point was 
his dense stupidity. 

Men of this type are always much alike ; in nearly 
all of them you will find one deep feeling hidden in 
their souls. The heart of the old paste-maker held 
two affections; they absorbed its juices just as the 
grain-market absorbed his brain. His wife, the only 
daughter of a rich farmer at Brie, was the object of 
his fervent admiration ; his love for her was unbounded. 
In her nature, fragile yet firm, sensible and sweet, he 
found a happy contrast to his own. If there is any 
sentiment inborn in the heart of man, it is one of pride 
in protecting a being weaker than himself. Add love 
to this and the gratitude that simple natures feel to- 
wards one who is the fount of all their happiness, and 
you will comprehend various moral singularities other- 
wise inexplicable. After seven years of married life 
without a cloud, Goriot, unhappily for himself, lost his 
wife. She was beginning to acquire a strong influence 
over him beyond the simple range of his affections. 

Pere Goriot. 113 

Had she lived, she might have cultivated his sluggish 
nature and roused it to some knowledge of life and the 
world about him. Left to himself, fatherhood became 
his absorbing passion, and it developed under his lonely 
circumstances until it passed the bounds of reason. 
His affections, balked by death, were now concentrated 
on his daughters, who for a time satisfied to the full 
his need of love. 

Though many prosperous marriages were proposed 
to him by mei'chants and fanners who would gladly 
have given him their daughters, he persisted in remain- 
ing a widower. His father-in-law, the only man for 
whom he had ever felt a liking, declared that Goriot 
had promised his wife never to be faithless even to her 
memory. The frequenters of the Halle aux Bles, 
incapable of understanding so refined a folly, jested 
roughly on his fidelity. The first who did so in his 
hearing received a sudden blow on the shoulder from 
the paste-maker's strong fist, which sent him head fore- 
most on the curbstone of the Rue Obi in. The blind 
devotion, the sensitive and nervous affection which 
Goriot gave to his daughters was so well known, that 
one day at the Halle a rival in the market, wishing 
to get him out of the way for a short time, told him 
that his daughter Delphine had been run over by a 
cabriolet. Pale as a ghost he left the Halle. On 
reaching home he found the story false, but was ill 
for several days from the agitation it had caused him. 
This time he did not punish with a blow the man 
who played the trick, but he hunted him from the 
markets, and forced him at a critical moment into 

114 Pere G-oriot. 

The education of his daughters was, naturally, inju- 
dicious. As he had sixty thousand francs a year, and 
spent about twelve hundred francs upon himself, he 
had enough to satisfy every girlish caprice. The best 
masters were employed to teach them those accomplish 
ments which are thought to make a good education. 
They had a dame decompagnie who, happily for them, 
was a woman of sense and spirit. They rode on horse- 
back ; they drove in carriages ; they lived in luxury 
If they expressed a wish, no matter what the cost, 
their father was eager to grant it ; all he asked in re- 
turn was a caress. He ranked them with the angels, 
far above himself in every way. Poor man, he loved 
even the pain they caused him. When they were of 
age to be married he permitted them to choose their 
husbands. Each was to have for dowry half her 
father's fortune. Anastasie, the eldest, had aristocratic 
tastes, and was courted by the Comte de Restaud for 
her beauty. She left her father's house to enter an 
exalted social sphere. Delphine loved money. She 
married Nucingen, a banker of German origin and a 
baron of the Holy Empire. Goriot remained a ver- 
micelli-maker. His daughters and sons-in-law were 
ashamed that he continued this business, although the 
occupation was life itself to him. After resisting their 
appeals for five years he consented to retire on the 
profits of these last years. This capital, as Madame 
Vauquer ascertained when he first went to live with 
her, yielded an income of from eight to ten thousand 
francs. It was despair that drove him to the Maison 
Vauquer ; despair at the discovery that his daugh- 
ters were forced by their husbands not only to refuse 

Pere G-oriot. 115 

him a home, but even to receive him openly in their 

Such was the substance of the information given to 
Rastignac by a Monsieur Muret, who had purchased 
the business from Godot. The account given by the 
Duchesse de Langeais was thus confirmed, and here 
ends the introduction to an obscure but terrible 
Parisian tragedy. 

Towards the end of the first week in December 
Rastignac received letters from his mother and his eld- 
est sister. Their well-known handwriting made jjis 
heart beat fast, partly with relief and partly with appre- 
hension. Those slender papers held the sentence of 
life or death to his ambition. If he dreaded failure as 
he thought of his parents' poverty, he knew their love 
for him too well not to tremble lest they might grant 
his prayer at the cost of their Life's blood. His mother's 
letter was as follows : 

MY DEAR CHILD, I send you what you ask for. Make 
good use of this money, for if your life depended on it I could 
not raise so large a sum again without speaking to your 
father, and that would cause trouble for our family. To get 
it we should be obliged to mortgage our property. I cannot 
judge of the value of plans that I know nothing about ; but 
what can they be if you are afraid to tell them to me ? An 
explanation would not require volumes ; we mothers under- 
stand our children at a word, and that word would have saved 
me some sharp pangs of doubt and anxiety. I cannot bide 
from you the painful impression made upon me by your letter. 
My dear son, what is it that has led you to make me so uneasy ? 
You must have suffered iu writing that letter, for I have suffered 
so much in reading it. What project have you for the future ? 

116 Pre G-oriot. 

Does your life, your happiness, as you say, depend upon 
appearing what you are not ; upon entering a world where you 
cannot live without spending money which you cannot afford ; 
nor without losing time most precious for your studies? 

My own Eugene, believe your mother when she tells you 
that crooked paths cannot lead to noble ends. Patience and 
self-sacrifice are the virtues which young men in your position 
must cultivate. But I am not reproaching you ; I would not 
mar our offering by a bitter word. I speak as a mother who 
trusts her son, even though she cautions him. You know 
your duty, and I know the purity of, your heart and the loyalty 
of your intentions. Therefore I do not fear to say, If all is 
right, my dearest, follow out your plans. I tremble because 
I am your mother ; but every step you make in life will have 
my prayers and blessing. You will need to be good and to 
be wise, for the future of five beings near and dear to you is 
in your hands. Yes, our prosperity is bound up in your pros- 
perity, as your happiness is our joy. We pray God to be with 
you in aD your undertakings. 

Your aunt Marcillac has been unspeakably kind in this 
affair; she even understood and sympathized with what you 
said of your gloves. " But, then," as she said laughing, " I 
have always had a soft spot in my heart fur the eldest son." 
My Eugene, be grateful to your aunt. I will not tell you what 
she has done for you until you have succeeded ; if I did, the 
money might scorch your fingers. Ah ! you children little 
know what a pang it is to part with souvenirs ; but what would 
we not do for you! She begs me to say that she sends a kiss, 
and wishes her kiss could give you strength to prosper. Dear, 
good woman ! she would have written herself but she has 
gout in her fingers. Your father is well. The grape harvest 
of 1819 proves better than we expected. Good-by, my dear 
boy. I say nothing about the sisters, for Laure is writing to 
you. I leave her the pleasure of telling all the little gossip of 
the family. Heaven grant you may do well ! Ah, prosper, 

G-oriot. 117 

my Eugene ! Thou hast made me too anxious I could not 
bear it a second time. I know at last what it is to be poor, 
and to long for money that I might give it to my child. 

Well ! adieu. Write to us constantly ; and take the kiss 
thy mother sends thee. 

When Eugene had read this letter he was in tears. 
He was thinking of Pere Goriot destroying his porrin- 
ger and selling it to pay his daughter's note of hand. 
"My mother has given her jewels," he cried, turning 
fiercely on himself. " My aunt must have wept as she 
sold her family relics. What right have I to con- 
demn Anastasie ? I have done for self what she did 
for her lover ! Which is the worst, she or I ? " His 
whole being was wrung with intolerable remorse. He 
would relinquish his ambition, he would not touch 
the money. He was seized by one of those noble 
secret returns of conscience so little comprehended by 
men as they judge their fellows ; so often, we may 
believe, taken into the great account when the angels 
receive the sinners condemned by the justice of the 
world. Rastignac opened his sister's letter, and its 
innocent, tender trustfulness fell like balm upon his 
spirit : 

Your letter came just at the right moment, dear brother. 
Agathe and I had debated so long what to do with our money, 
and we had thought of so many ways of spending it, that we 
could not decide upon anything. You are like the servant of the 
King of Spain when he threw down all his master's watches, 
you have made us agree. Really and truly, we were always 
disputing which of our fancies we should follow ; but, dear 
Eugene, we never thought of this, which exactly suits us both. 
Agathe jumped for joy. In fact, we were all day in such high 

118 Pere Goriot. 

spirits u on sufficient grounds" (aunt's style) that mamma put 
on her severe manner and said, "Young ladies, what is the 
matter with you ? " If she had scolded us a little bit, I do be- 
lieve it would have made us happier still. Surely women must 
enjoy making sacrifices for those they love. But I was sad in 
the midst of my joy. I am afraid I shall make a bad wife, I 
am so extravagant. I had just bought myself two sashes, and 
a stiletto to punch eyelets in my corsets, mere foolishness ! 
and so I had less money than that fat Agathe, who is 
economical and hoards her five-franc pieces like a magpie. 
She had two hundred francs ; while I, O dear Eugene, had 
only a hundred and fifty! I was well punished for my extrava- 
gance. I wanted to fling my sash into the well. I know I 
shall never have any pleasure in wearing it ; I shall feel as if 
I had stolen it from you. Agathe was so kind : she said, 
" Let us send the three hundred and fifty all together." But I 
feel as if I must tell you just how it was. Do you want to 
know how we managed so as not to let any one suspect what 
we were doing ? as you said we must keep the secret. We 
took our precious money and went out for a walk. When we 
got to the high-road we ran as fast as we could to Ruffee. 
There we gave all the money to Monsieur Gritnbert at the 
Messageries-Royales coach office. We flew home like swal- 
lows, so fast because we were so light-hearted, Agathe 
said. We said lots of things to each other which I should not 
like to repeat to you, Monsieur le Parisien. They were all 
about you. Oh ! dear brother, we love you there ! it is all 
in those three words. 

As for keeping the secret, naughty little girls, as aunt calls 
us, can do anything, even keep silent ! Mamma went to 
Angouleme mysteriously with aunt the other day, and they 
would not tell us a word about the high and mighty purposes 
of the expedition. They have held long private conferences ; 
but we are sent out of the room, and even Monsieur le baron 
is not admitted. Great affairs occupy all minds in the king- 

Pere Goriot. 119 

dorn of Rastignac. The muslin dress, embroidered in satin- 
stitch by the infantas for the queen, her majesty, is getting on, 
though they can only work at it in the utmost secresy. There 
are now only two breadths to finish. It has been decided to 
build no wall toward Verteuil ; there is to be a hedge. This 
will deprive the natives of wall-fruit, but offers a fine view to 
foreigners. If the heir-presumptive wants any handkerchiefs, 
he is hereby informed that the dowager-countess de Marcillac, 
turning over the treasures in her trunks (excavations in Her- 
culaneum and Pompeii), came upon a lovely piece of linen cam- 
bric, which she did not know she had. The princesses Laure 
and Agathe put their thread, needles, and fingers the latter, 
alas ! a little too red at his highness's orders. The two 
young princes, Don Henri and Don Gabriel, keep at their old 
tricks, gorging themselves with grapes, worrying their sisters, 
learning nothing, bird's-nesting, making a racket, and cut- 
ting, in defiance of the laws of the State, willow twigs for 
switches. The Pope's nuncio, commonly called Monsieur le 
cure", threatens to excommunicate them if the sacred canons 
of grammar are neglected for popguns. 

Adieu, dear brother. Never did a letter carry deeper wishes 
for your happiness, nor so much grateful love. How many 
things you will have to tell us when you come home! You 
will tell me all, I know, I am the eldest. Aunt threw out 
a mysterious hint of success in the great world : 

" A lady's name she whispered, but, hush ! for all the rest," 
a word to the wise, you know, we understand each other ! 

Tell me, Eugene, would you like shirts instead of hand- 
kerchiefs? We can make them for you. Answer this at 
once. If you want some fine shirts, very nicely made, we 
must set to work immediately. And if there are any new 
ways of making them in Paris which we do not know here, 
send us a pattern, particularly for the cuffs. Adieu, adieu. 
I kiss you over your left eyebrow, for that spot belongs exclu- 
sively to me. I leave the other page for Agathe, who has 

120 Pere Goriot. 

promised not to look at what I have written ; Lut to make 
sure, I shall stay behind her till she has finished. 
Thy sister who loves thee, 


" Oh, yes ! '' cried Eugene : " yes ! fortune at any 
price ! No treasures could repay them for their devo- 
tion. I will shower upon them every happiness. Fif- 
teen hundred francs ! " he added, after a pause. " Every 
five-franc piece must do its work. Laure is right ; my 
shirts are all too coarse. A young girl becomes as cun- 
ning as a thief when she plans for others. Innocent 
herself, far-sighted for me! She is like the angels, 
who forgive the human faults they cannot share." 

The world was all before him ! Already a tailor had 
been called, sounded, and selected. When Eugene first 
beheld Monsieur de Trailles, he became conscious of 
the enormous influence tailors exert over the lives of 
young men. A man's tailor must be either his mortal 
enemy or his trusted friend. Eugene's choice fell upon 
a man who took a fatherly position towards his patrons, 
and considered himself a link between the present and 
the future of young men who aspired to get on in the 
world. Rastignac showed his gratitude, and made the 
man's fortune by one of those clever sayings for which 
he became celebrated in after years. " I have known 
him make two pairs of trousers which made two mar- 
riages of forty thousand francs a year," he said. 

Pere Goriot. 121 


FIFTEEN hundred francs and all the clothes he needed ! 
Our ardent son of the south flung his hesitations to the 
wind, and went down to breakfast with that indefinable 
air which a youth puts on when he is conscious of pos- 
sessing money. The moment that a student jingles 
coin in his pocket he feels that he is leaning on a pillar 
of sti-ength. His step becomes assured ; his lever has a 
fulcrum to work on ; he looks ahead ; he sees his way ; 
his very movements grow alert. Yesterday, timid and 
despondent, he could hardly resent an injury; to-day 
he is ready to offer one to the chief of state. A curi- 
ous transformation is at work within him. He wants 
all things, feels himself capable of all things ; his desires 
rush forth at random ; he is gay, generous, and open- 
hearted, the fledgling has found his wings. As a 
penniless student he had been content to snatch a scrap 
of pleasure as a dog steals a bone, cracks it, sucks the 
marrow furtively, and runs away. But the young man 
who rattles money in his breeches pocket can afford to 
linger over his enjoyments; he can suck their juice at 
leisure; he floats in summer air; for him the harsh 
word poverty no longer has a meaning, all Paris be- 
longs to him. In youth how these th ings glitter ! how 
they sparkle and flame! Age of glad strength, by 
which few profit, either men or women ; age of debts 

122 Pere G-oriot. 

and anxieties which enhance the joys ! He who has 
never haunted the left bank of the Seine between the 
Rue Saint-Jacques and the Rue dss Saint-Peres knows 
little of the comedy, or the tragedy, of human life. 

" Ah ! if the women of Paris did but know ! " 
thought Eugene, as he devoured Madame Vauquer's 
baked pears at a farthing apiece, " they would want 
me to love them." 

At this moment a messenger from the Messageries- 
Royales came into the dining-room, having rung at 
the gate-bell. He asked for Monsieur Eugene de Ras- 
tignac, for whom he brought two bags of silver coin 
and the register for signature. 

Vautrin threw a glance round Rastignac as keen and 
sharp as the lash of a whip. 

" You will be able to pay for your fencing lessons," 
he said, " and your pistols too." 

" The galleons have come in," said Madame Vauquer, 
glancing at the bags. 

Mademoiselle Michonneau dared not cast her eyes 
at them, fearing to show her covetousness. 

" You have a good mother," said Madame Couture. 

"> Monsieur has a good mother," repeated Poiret. 

" Oh, yes ! Mamma has bled herself," said Vautrin, 
" and now you may take your fling if you like ; go into 
the world and fish for dots, or dance with countesses 
and peach-blossoms. But take my advice, young man, 
stick to the pistol-gallery." 

Vautrin put himself in the attitude of taking aim at 
an adversary. Rastignac felt in his pocket for a pour- 
boire to the messenger, but found nothing ; Vautrin 
put his hand in his, and flung the man a franc. 

Pere aoriot. 123 

" Your credit is good," he observed, looking at the 

Rastignac was forced to thank him, although since 
the sharp words they had exchanged after his first visit 
to Madame de Beauseant the man had become intoler- 
able to him. For a week Eugene and Vautrin had not 
spoken, and each had silently watched the other. The 
student in vain asked himself the reason. There is no 
doubt that ideas strike with a force proportionate to the 
vigor of their conception ; they hit the mark at which 
they are aimed by some such mathematical law as that 
which guides the shell when it leaves the mouth of the 
cannon. The effects are various. There are tender 
natures which ideas penetrate and blast to ashes ; there 
are vigorous natures, skulls of iron, from which the 
thoughts and wills of other men glance off like bullets 
flattened as they strike a wall ; others, again, are soft 
and cottony, and into them ideas sink dead, like can- 
non-balls that bury themselves in the earth-works of a 

Rastignac's nature was a powder-flask ready to ex- 
plode at a touch. He had too much youthful vitality 
not to be open to this imposition of ideas, this mag- 
netism of mind upon mind, whose capricious phenomena 
affect us on all sides without our being aware of it. 
His moral perceptions were as clear as his eyes, keen 
as those of a lynx. Mentnlly and physically he had 
that mysterious power to take and give impressions at 
which we marvel in men of superior calibre : skilful 
swordsmen quick to know the weak places in every 
breastplate. During the past month Eugene's finer 
qualities had developed in common with his defects. 

124 Pere G-oriot. 

His defects were nourished by his entrance into the 
great world, and by some slight accomplishment of his 
ambitious dreams. Among his finer qualities may be 
counted that southern vivacity of spirit which compels 
a man to go straight at a difficulty and master it, and 
will not suffer him to be baffled by uncertainty. This 
quality northern people regard as a defect. To their 
minds, if it was the cause of Murat's rise, it was also the 
cause of his death : from which we may conclude that 
when a man unites the trickery of the north to the au- 
dacity of the region south of the Loire, he has reached 
perfection and may aspire to be king of Sweden. Ras- 
tignac could not, therefore, long remain passive under 
Vautrin's fire without making up his mind whether the 
man was his friend or his enemy. From time to time 
he was certain that this strange being penetrated his 
motives, divined his passions, and read his heart ; hold- 
ing guard at the same time over his own secrets with 
the impassiveness of the sphinx .who sees and knows 
all, and reveals nothing. His pockets being now full 
of money, Eugene mutinied. 

" Do me the favor to wait," he said to Vautrin, who 
had risen to leave the room after drinking the last 
drops of his coffee. 

" Why ? " asked the latter, putting on his broad- 
brimmed hat, and picking up his cane. This cane was 
loaded with iron, and he was fond of twirling it about 
his head with the air of a man who thought himself a 
match for half-a-dozen robbers. 

" I wish to return your money," replied Rastignac, 
unfastening one of his bags and counting out a hun- 
dred and forty francs for Madame Vauquer. "Short 

Pere Goriot. 125 

accounts make long friends," he said to the widow. 
" Now I have paid up to the last day of December. 
Can you change me this five-franc piece ? " 

" Long friends make short accounts," echoed Poiret, 
looking at Vautrin. 

" Here are your twenty sous" said Rastignac, hold- 
ing out a franc to the sphinx in a wig. 

" One would think you were afraid to owe me any- 
thing," cried Vautrin, plunging his divining glance into 
the very soul of the young man, and giving him one of 
those mocking Diogenistic smiles which Eugene had 
again and again been on the point of resenting. 

" Well yes," said the student, lifting his bags and 
preparing to go upstairs. 

Vautrin went out of the door that led into the salon; 
the student passed through that leading to the staircase. 

" Do you know, Monsieur le Marquis de Rastignaco- 
rama, that what you said to me just now was not ex- 
actly polite ? " said Vautrin, coming through the door 
leading from the salon into the passage, and speaking 
to the student, who looked at him coolly. 

Rastignac shut the dining-room door, and drew Vau- 
trin to the foot of the staircase, in the little square 
space that separated the dining-room from the kitchen. 
In this passage there was a glass door opening upon 
the garden, the glass of which was protected by iron 
bars. There the student said, before Sylvie, who was 
coming out of her kitchen, 

" Monsieur Vautrin, I am not a marquis, and my 
name is not Rastignacorama." 

"They are going to fight," said Mademoiselle Mi- 
chonneau in a tone of indifference. 

126 P2re Goriot. 

" Fight a duel," repeated Poiret. 

" Oh, no," said Madame Vauquer, fingering her pile 
of five-franc pieces. 

" Oh, see ! They have gone down under the lin- 
dens," cried Mademoiselle Victorine, getting up and 
looking into the garden. " And he was in the right 
that poor young man ! " 

" Let us go to our rooms, my dearest," said Madame 
Couture, "these things do not concern us." 

As Madame Couture and Victorine turned to leave 
the room they met Sylvie in the doorway, who barred 
their passage. 

" What 's the matter ? " she cried. " Monsieur Vautrin 
said to Monsieur Eugene, ' Let us have an explanation,' 
and he took him by the arm, and there they are, tramp- 
ling down our artichokes." 

At this moment Vautrin re-appeared. " Madame 
Vauquer," he said, smiling, " don't be afraid ; I am 
going to try my pistols under the trees yonder." 

" Oh ! Monsieur," cried Victorine, clasping her hands, 
" why do you wish to kill Monsieur Eugene ? " 

Vautrin made a step backward and looked at her. 

" Oh ! ho ! a new story," he cried, with an amused air 
which brought a blush to her pale cheek. " He is very 
nice, is n't he? A charming young man! You have given 
me an idea. I '11 make you both happy, my little girl." 

Madame Couture had taken her charge by the arm 
and now drew her away hastily, saying in an under- 
tone, " Vietorine ! what has come over you to-day? " 

"I beg you will fire no pistols in my garden," said 
Madame Vauquer. " Don't go and frighten the whole 
neighborhood, and bring the police upon us." 

Pre Qoriot. 127 

" Oh, keep calm, Mamma Vauquer," replied Vautrin. 
" There, there it 's all right. We will go to the 

He went back to Rastignac and took him familiarly 
by the arm : " If I prove to you that at thirty-six paces 
I can put a bullet five times through the ace of spades, 
it won't take away your courage. You look to me 
like a man who would balk at nothing when his blood 
was up, and get himself killed as soon as not like a 

" You wish to back out of it," said Eugene. 

" Don't provoke me," replied Vautrin. " Come and 
sit down yonder," he added, pointing to the benches 
painted green ; " it is not cold, and nobody can over- 
hear us there. You are a good fellow, to whom I wish 
no harm. I like you, on the honor of Tromp thunder ! 
honor of Vautrin ; and I '11 tell you why I like you. 
In the first place, I know you inside and out, just as 
well as if I had made you ; and I will prove it to you. 
Put your bags down there," he added, pointing to the 
round table. 

Rastignac put his money on the table and sat down, 
devoured by curiosity as to this sudden change in a 
man who having just proposed to kill him, now as- 
sumed to be his protector. 

" You want to know who I am, what I have done, 
and what I am doing," resumed Vautrin. " You are too 
inquisitive, young man stop, stop ! be calm ! you have 
more of that to hear. I have had misfortunes. Listen 
to me first ; you can talk afterwards. Here is my past 
life in three words : Who am I ? Vautrin. What do 
I do ? Just what I please Pass on. Do you want to 

128 PeVe Goriot. 

know my character ? Good to those who are good to 
me ; whose heart answers to mine. From them I '11 
take anything. They may kick me on the shins if 
they like, I won't even say, * Take care ! ' But, nom 
cTune pipe, I 'm as wicked as the devil to those who 
annoy me, or those I don't like. It is as well to let 
you know at once that I don't mind killing a man any 
more than that ! [spitting before him.] Only, I en- 
deavor to kill him properly, and when it can't be helped. 
I am what you may call an artist. I have read the 
memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini, and read them in 
Italian too, which may surprise you. I learned from 
that man bold, determined fellow that he was ! to 
imitate the ways of Providence, who kills at random, 
and to love the beautiful wherever I see it. And, after 
all, is n't it a fine thing to stand single-handed against 
the world, with the luck on our side ? 

" I have reflected deeply on the forces that govern 
your social order or disorder. My lad, duels are 
child's play, absurdities. When in the course of 
human events one of two living men has to disappear, 
they must be idiots to leave anything to chance. A 
duel ! heads or tails ! that 's what it is. I can put 
five balls running through the same hole in the ace of 
spades, and at thirty-six paces, to boot. When any 
one is gifted with that little talent, he might be sup- 
posed to be certain of killing his man. "Well, for all 
that, I 've fired at a man at twenty paces, and missed 
him ; and the scoundrel had never pulled a trigger in 
his life ! See," he continued, opening his shirt and 
showing a breast as shaggy as a bear's back, with long 
hair like the mane of a wild animal, which caused a 

Pere Goriot. 129 

sickening sensation of fear and repulsion ; " that green- 
horn scorched me," he added, catching Rastignac's 
'hand and putting his finger into the scar. 

" But in those days I was a youngster ; only twenty- 
one, just your age ; and I still believed in something, 
woman's love, for instance, and a heap of nonsense 
into which you are just plunging. We might have 
fought, and you might have killed me, just now. 
Suppose I was underground, where would you be? 
Obliged to fly to Switzerland and live on papa's 
money, only he has n't got any. Now, I am going 
to put before you the position in which you stand ; 
and I shall do it with the authority of a man who has 
looked into things in this lower world, and knows that 
there are but two paths open to us, blind obedience 
or revolt. I don't obey, take that for granted. Now, 
do you know what you need, at the pace you are 
going? A million of francs, immediately. If you 
don't get them, with your excitable temperament 
you'll be wandering with your feet in the nets at 
Saint-Cloud and your head in the air looking for the 
Supreme Being, before long. I '11 give you your 

He paused and looked at Eugene. 

" Ha, ha ! We are getting friendly to Papa Vau- 
trin. When he offers us a million, we are like a young 
girl to whom the lover says, ' To-night,' and she begins 
to prink like a little cat licking her fur when she has 
lapped her milk. All right! Well, then, between 
ourselves, this is how it is with you, young man. 
Down yonder in the country there 's papa and mamma, 
and our great-aunt, and two sisters (seventeen and 

130 Pere Goriot. 

eighteen years of age), and two little brothers (ten 
and fifteen). There 's the whole ship's company. The 
aunt teaches the sisters, the cure imparts Latin to the 
boys. The family eat more boiled chestnuts than 
wheat bread ; papa tries not to wear out his breeches ; 
mamma can hardly buy herself a new gown summer or 
winter ; the sisters get along as they can. I know it 
all, I've lived in the south of France. Somehow 
they manage to send you twelve hundred francs a 
year, though the property only brings in three thou- 
sand. We keep a cook and a man-servant for the 
sake of appearances : papa is a baron, you know. As 
for ourself, we are ambitious. We have the Beauseants 
for allies ; but we have to go afoot, which does not 
please us. We want a fortune, and we haven't a sou. 
We eat Mamma Vauquer's messes, but we long for 
the feasts in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. We sleep 
on a pallet, but we dream of a mansion. I don't blame 
you. You are ambitious. It is not every one, my 
brave boy, who is blessed with ambition. Ask women 
what sort of men they like best, ambitious men. 
Their blood has more iron in it, their hearts are 

" I 've summed up your wants as a preface to a 
question. Here it is. We are as hungry as a wolf ; 
our milk-teeth are very sharp ; how are we going to 
fill the pot ? Shall we stay our appetite on law ? 
Studying law is dull work ; and, besides, it teaches 
nothing. However, call it the best we can do, for 
we must do something. So be it, then. Well, we 
graduate ; and by and by we get an appointment as 
judge in some petty criminal court, and send off poor 

Pere Goriot. 131 

devils better than ourselves with T F branded on 
their shoulders, that rich men may sleep in peace. 
Small fun in that ! and besides, it is long in coming. 
In the first place, two years of weary waiting, look- 
ing at the sugarplums we long for, but cannot have. 
It is hard to be always craving, never getting what we 
want. If you were a poor, pale mollusk of a man, 
there would be nothing to fear ; but, no ! we have the 
blood of a lion in our veins, and the capacity for com- 
mitting twenty follies a day. You will never bear the 
trial ; you will sink under it ; it is the worst torture 
that we have yet heard of in the hell of a good God. 
But suppose you are irreproachable, that you drink 
milk and write hymns. After all your privations, 
enough to drive a dog mad, not to speak of a generous 
young fellow like you, you will have to begin by tak- 
ing another man's place in some hole of a town where 
the Government will pay you a thousand francs a year, 
just as they fling a bone to the watch-dog. Bark at 
the robbers, win the cause of the rich, and send to the 
guillotine men of heart and pluck ? No, thank you ! 
If you have no one to push your fortunes, you will rot 
in your petty judgeship. When you are thirty you 
will be promoted to twelve hundred francs per an- 
num, unless by that time you have flung your 
gown to the nettles. At forty you will marry a mil- 
ler's daughter, with six thousand francs a year for 
her portion. 

" To all this you say, Never ! Well, if you have in- 
fluence you may possibly at thirty get to be procureur 
du roi [prosecuting attorney], with five thousand 
francs a year, and marry the mayor's daughter. If 

132 Pere Q-oriot. 

you have the luck to do any little meanness for the 
Government, such as reading the name of Villele 
from the register, instead of Manuel, you may at 
forty become procureur-general, and rise to be a dep- 
uty. But take notice, my young friend, that by this 
time we shall have torn some big rents in our con- 
science ; we shall have had twenty years of weary 
waiting and bitter poverty, and by that time the 
sisters auront coiffe Saint -Catherine [will have 
turned into old maids]. I have also the honor to 
point out to you that there are only twenty procu- 
reurs-generaux in France ; and that twenty thou- 
sand young aspirants are standing in line, among 
whom you will find fellows who would sell their 
own families to advance a step. 

" If this prospect seems unpleasant, let us turn to 
something else. Would the Baron de Rastignac like 
to become an avocat a barrister ? Delightful ! In 
that case he will earn nothing for ten years, spend a 
thousand francs a month, need a law-library and an 
office, kiss the robe of an attorney to get briefs, and 
lick up the law courts with his tongue. If all this 
would lead to anything it might be very well. But 
find me six barristers in Paris who at fifty years of 
age earn fifty thousand francs a year. Bah ! sooner 
than belittle my soul like that I'd take to piracy. 
Well, then, how else can we make money? These 
prospects are certainly not brilliant. There 's another 
resource; and that's a wife's fortune. But if you 
marry, you tie a stone round your neck for life ; and 
if you marry for money, what becomes of our fine sen- 
timents about noblesse and honor ? You might as well 

PeVe Goriot. 133 

not put off your revolt against the conventional ideas 
of humanity. To make such a marriage you would 
have to wriggle like a snake at some woman's feet, and 
lick her mother's shoes, and humiliate yourself to things 
that would disgust a pig pah ! And, after all, you 
need n't expect happiness. You would wear out like 
the stones of a drain through continual dropping, if you 
married a wife in this way. Better fight with men 
than try your strength against a woman. Here you 
are, young man, at the cross-roads of your life. Choose 
your path. You have chosen ? You have been to see 
our cousin de Beauseant, and you have breathed the 
atmosphere of luxury. You have been to visit Madame 
de Restaud, daughter of Pere Goriot, and you have 
scented the Parisienne. You came home from those 
visits with a word written on your forehead. I read 
it, it was success! success at any price. Bravo! 
I said, that 's the fellow to suit me. You wanted 
money. You cast about to see how you might get 
it. You bled your sisters : all brothers sponge more 
or less upon their sisters. And now that you have 
got your fifteen hundred francs, squeezed Heaven 
knows how ! out of a land where chestnuts are more 
plentiful than five-franc pieces, you will find them dis- 
appear like soldiers on a forage. 

" What next ? Will you set to work again ? The 
sort of work that you call work at present leads in old 
age to a bed-room in a pension like Madame Vauquer's, 
fit for chaps like Poiret. At this very moment fifty 
thousand young men, situated just as you are, are re- 
volving in their minds how to make a rapid fortune. 
You are a unit among fifty thousand. Make your 

134 Pre Goriot. 

estimate of the chances and the fierceness of the fight 
before you. The fifty thousand will have to eat each 
other up, like spiders in a jug; for of course there 
are not fifty thousand good positions, one apiece all 
round ! Do you know how to win a first place in the 
struggle ? I will tell you. By the highest genius, or 
the lowest corruption. You must either rend a way 
for yourself through the crowd like a cannon-ball, or 
you must creep through it silently like a pestilence. 
Honesty and uprightness won't help you. People 
bend beneath the power of genius, but they hate it. 
Genius is calumniated because it takes what it can get 
and never shares its takings ; but the world bows 
before its strength. In other words, the world wor- 
ships on its knees those whom it cannot smother in 
the mud. Corruption is also strength. Genius is 
rare. It follows that corruption is the resource of 
the great commonplace majority ; and you will find 
it evei'ywhere. You will see women whose husbands' 
pay is six thousand francs at most, spending ten thou- 
sand upon their toilettes. You will see employes who 
have a salary of twelve hundred francs acquiring 
landed property. You will see women prostituting 
themselves to drive to Longcharaps in the carriage 
of the son of a peer of France which has a right to 
the middle highway. You have seen that poor fool 
of a Pere Goriot obliged to pay the note indorsed 
by his daughter, whose husband has sixty thousand 
francs per annum. I defy you to walk two steps in 
Paris without stumbling on some infernal perfidy. 
I 'd bet my head to one of those old salad stumps 
that you will stick your nose into a wasp's-nest the 

Pere Goriot. 135 

first time you fall in love with any woman, no mat- 
ter how wealthy, or young, or handsome she may be. 
All women of fashion walk in crooked ways ; all are 
at variance with their husbands. If I were to tell 
you what things are done for lovers and for frippery, 
for children and for show, and above all for vanity, I 
should never have done. Not much that is virtuous 
you may be sure. An honest man is deemed a com- 
mon enemy. But where can we find an honest man ? 
In Paris, honor and honesty consist in refusing to go 
shares, and holding one's tongue. I am not speaking 
now of those poor Helots who stick to honesty and 
virtue without expecting any recompense for their 
labors in this world, the Brotherhood of the Old 
Shoes of the Good Lord, I call them. Of course they 
are the flower of virtuous foolishness, but they are 
always poor. I c:m imagine the blank faces of that 
saintly crowd if Heaven were to play us such a joke 
as to omit the Day of Judgment. 

" Now, it follows that if you wish to get on quickly 
you must either be rich or make believe to be so. To 
grow rich you must play a strong game, not a trum- 
pery cautious one ; no ! no ! If in the hundred profes- 
sions a man can choose from he makes a rapid fortune, 
the world says he must have done it dishonestly. 
Draw your own conclusions. Such is life. It is no 
better than a kitchen full of bad smells. If you have 
fish to fry, you must soil your hands in frying them ; 
only be sure to wash them when you have done your 
cookery. That is the moral of the times we live in. 
I own that in speaking to you thus I know myself to 
have wrongs to avenge upon society. Do you think I 

136 Pre Goriot. 

blame it for its enmity to me ? Not at all ; it is nat- 
ural. Moralists will make no radical changes, depend 
upon it, in the morality of the great world. Human 
nature is imperfect. Every man is a hypocrite, and ac- 
cording as he is more or less of one fools will cry out 
that he is better or worse. I don't say that the rich 
are any worse than the poor. Man is the same at the 
top or at the bottom or in the middle of society. You '11 
find ten bold fellows in every million of such cattle who 
dare to set things at defiance including your laws. 
I am one of them. If you feel yourself to be a man 
superior to other men, you may walk a straight line 
possibly and hold your head high. But you will have 
to struggle with envy, calumny, and mediocrity, in 
short, against the world. Napoleon came near being 
sent off to the colonies by a minister of war named 
Aubry. Put yourself to the proof, see if you can 
get up every morning with more energy than you felt 
the day before. There 's a test. 

" Now, in view of all these circumstances, I am 
going to make you a proposition that I think no man 
in your position should refuse. Listen ! I myself 
cherish an ideal. My ideal existence is that of a patri- 
arch dwelling upon a vast estate say a hundred 
thousand acres in one of the Southern States of 
North America. I should like to be a planter, to own 
slaves, and amass a few millions by selling my cattle, 
my tobacco, and timber. There, living like a king, 
with every creature round me subject to my will, I 
should lead a sort of life not conceived of in this 
country, where people crowd themselves in streets of 
stucco. I am a poet, only my poems are not made 

Pere Groriot. 137 

in verse ; they have their rise in sentiment, and I 
turn them into action. I possess at this moment about 
fifty thousand francs, which would barely buy me 
forty negroes. I want two hundred thousand francs, 
because I need two hundred negroes to carry out 
my dreams of patriarchal existence. You see, negroes 
are ready-made children ; you may do whatever you 
please with them, without any inquisitive procureur 
du roi pouncing down upon you with questions. 
With this black capital, in ten years I should make 
three or four millions. If I succeed, no man will 
ask 'Who are you?' I shall be Monsieur Quatre- 
Millions, citizen of the United States. I shall be 
fifty by that time, still in my prime, and eager to 
amuse myself. In two words, if I get you a dot 
of a million, will you give me two hundred thousand 
francs ? Twenty per cent commission, fiein ? is 
that too dear ? You will win the affection of your 
little wife. When you have been married a few- 
weeks you can let her see that you have something 
on your mind ; you can seem disquieted, uneasy. 
Then, some night, between two kisses, you can own 
that you are in debt, two hundred thousand francs 
in debt, darling ! This farce is acted every day, by 
young men of good family. No young wife will refuse 
her money to the man she loves. Do you think you 
will be the poorer ? Not at all. You can easily get 
back your two hundred thousand francs in a good 
speculation. With your money and your enterprise, 
you will make as large a fortune as heart could wish. 
Ergo, in six months I shall have made your happiness 
and that of a sweet little wife. And happiest of all 

138 Pere Goriot. 

will be Papa Vautrin ; to say nothing of your own 
family, who are now blowing their fingers to keep 
warm, for lack of fire-wood. You need not be aston- 
ished at what I offer, nor at what I ask. Out of sixty 
good matches made in Paris, forty-seven o\ve their 
origin to a similar understanding. The Chambre des 
Notaires obliged Monsieur " 

" But what is there to be done on my part ? " asked 
Eugene, eagerly interrupting Yautrin. 

" Almost nothing," replied the other, letting a sound 
escape him like the click of satisfaction given by an 
angler when he feels the fish at the end of his line. 
" Listen. The heart of a young girl used to neglect 
and poverty is a sponge ready to absorb any affection 
offered to her, a dry sponge, which begins to swell 
as soon as a drop of love falls upon it. To make love 
to a young girl under such circumstances, a poor, 
lonely, and dispirited girl, a girl who knows nothing of 
the prospect of great wealth that is in store for her, 
damn it! it is like holding quinte and quatorze at 
piquet ; it is like putting into a lottery when you know 
the numbers ; it is like buying into the funds when 
you 've found out the secrets of diplomacy. You are 
building on a sure foundation. If the young girl 
inherits millions, she will pour them at your feet as if 
they were pebble-stones. She will say, ' Ah ! take 
them, dearest ! ' Take them, Alfred, Adolphe, Eugene ! 
especially if Adolphe, Alfred, or Eugene have had 
the sense to make sacrifices for her. By sacrifices I 
mean such as selling an old coat that he and she may 
go together to the Cadran-Bleu and eat mushroom 
toast, or to the Ambigu-Comique, or else pawning 

PZre Goriot. 139 

your watch to buy her a new shawl. I say nothing 
about love-scribbling, and all the stuff and nonsense 
women make so much of, such as sprinkling water 
on your letter to make it look like tears, when you are 
parted from her. I fancy you know all that of 
the heart well enough already. Paris is like a forest 
peopled by twenty different tribes of red Indians, 
Iroquois, Hurons, and the like, who all live by hunt- 
ing the prosperous classes. You are bent on bagging 
millions. Your trapping will require snares, decoys, 
and bird-lime. There are many ways of going after 
that kind of game. Some hunt for dots / others grow 
rich by bankruptcy ; others angle for consciences, and 
sell their victims bound hand and foot. He who comes 
home with a good bag is congratulated, feted, and re- 
ceived in good society. Let us do justice to the hos- 
pitality of Paris ; it is the easiest city to get on in in 
the world. Though the proud aristocracy of every 
other capital in Europe may decline to countenance a 
rascally millionnaire, Paris will open her arms to him, 
rush to his parties, eat his dinners, and hob-nob with 
him and his infamy." 

" But where can I find such a girl ? " said Eugene. 

" She is here ; close at hand." 

" Mademoiselle Victorine ? " 

" Precisely." 

" But how can that be ? " 

" She loves you already, your little Baronne de 

" She has not a sou ! " cried Eugene in amazement. 

" Ah ! now we are coming to the point. Two words 
more," said Vautrin, " and then you will understand 

140 Pere Goriot. 

me. Papa Taillefer is an old rascal, who is said to 
have murdered his best friend during the Revolution. 
He is one of those fellows I spoke of, who are not tied 
down by scruples or conventionalities. He is a banker, 
head of the house of Frederic Taillefer & Co. He 
has one son, to whom he intends to leave his whole 
fortune and disinherit Victorine. I object to such in- 
justice. I am like Don Quixote, I delight in taking 
the part of the weak against the strong. If it pleased 
a wise Providence to kill his son, old Taillefer would 
take back his daughter. He would want some kind 
of an heir, for that is a folly common to human na- 
ture ; and he won't have any more children, I know. 
Victorine is pretty and amiable ; she will soon work 
her way into his favor, and spin him round like a 
whipping top ; her whip will be the liking he will take 
for her. She will be too grateful to you for loving her 
when she was poor to throw you over when she is rich, 
and you will marry her. Well, I take upon myself 
the duty of a wise Providence, I will play the part 
of Destiny. I have a friend for whom I have done 
much, very much, a colonel in the army of the 
Loire, who has lately come to Paris to enter the 
Garde Royale. He has taken my advice and become 
an ultra-royalist : he is not one of those fools who 
stick to their opinions. I may as well give you an- 
other bit of advice, my friend. Don't keep your opin- 
ions any more than your promises. When people 
need them, sell them. When a man boasts that he 
holds fast to one opinion, he pledges himself to walk a 
straight line, and is one of those ninnies who believe 
in infallibility. There are no such things as principles, 

Pere Goriot. 141 

there are events. Neither are there laws, only 
circumstances. A wise man grasps circumstances and 
events, and guides them. If there were essential prin- 
ciples or fundamental laws, the populations could not 
change them, as they now change them, like a shirt. 
A man is not bound to be wiser than his generation. 
The man of all others whose political career has been 
of least service to France is now an ancient fetich, 
adored because he was a red republican. He is good 
for nothing, now* but to be shelved in a Museum and 
ticketed La Fayette ; while Talleyrand, at whom 
everybody casts a stone, and who despises mankind so 
utterly that he will spit back into the world's face any 
promises it may require of him, hindered the dismem- 
berment of France at the Congress of Vienna. He 
ought to be honored with crowns; but the world flings 
mud at him. Oh, I know how things work ! I have 
many a man's secret in my keeping. Enough of this. 
I shall begin to hold fixed opinions on the day when 
I find any three men agreeing on the practical applica- 
tion of a principle. I expect to wait a good while. 
You can't find three judges in accord on a question 
of law. To come back to my man. He would sell 
his soul it belongs to me if I asked him. If 
Papa Vautrin speaks the word, he will pick a quarrel 
with that young blackguard who never sends a five- 
franc piece to his poor sister, and then 

Here Vautrin rose, put himself on guard, and made 
a pass as if with a sword " To the shades ! " he 

" Monstrous ! " cried Eugene ; " you must be joking, 
Monsieur Vautrin." 

142 Pere G or tot. 

" There, there, keep calm ! " replied the other, " don't 
be a baby. Still, if it will do you any good, get angry, 
furious ; tell me I am a wretch, a villain, a scoundrel, 
a robber, anything you like, except cheat or spy. 
Go on ; speak ; fire your broadside, I '11 forgive you. 
It is natural at your age ; I did the same in my time, 
even I. But remember this, you will do worse than 
that some day. You will win some pretty woman 
and accept her money. You have thought of it al- 
ready," said Vautrin ; " how else do you expect to 
succeed if you don't turn her to advantage? Virtue, 
my dear student, is not a thing you can have by halves. 
It is or it is not. We are told to repent of our sins. 
Another pretty system, that lets a man get rid of his 
crimes by a mere act of contrition ! To plan a woman's 
infamy that you may mount the social ladder; to put a 
strain of illegitimacy among the children ; to be guilty 
of cruelties and wrongs for your own pleasure and ad- 
vantage, are those what you call works of faith, hope, 
and charity ? Why should a man of fashion be lightly 
dealt with for defrauding the rightful heir of half his 
fortune, while the poor devil who steals a thousand- 
franc note goes to the galleys? But such is law. 
Every enactment may be stretched to an absurdity. 
Between what I propose to you and what you will do 
some day there is no difference. You believe that there 
are certain principles as fixed as Fate in this world. 
Study men, and see how many loop-holes there are 
through which they set laws and principles at defiance. 
The secret of a great fortune made without apparent 
cause is soon forgotten, if the crime is committed in a 
respectable way." 

Pere Goriot. 143 

" Silence, Monsieur ! I will hear no more. You will 
make me doubt myself, and my only guide is the in- 
stinct of my own heart." 

" As you please^ bel enfant ! I thought you stronger 
than I find you," said Vautrin. "I will say no more 
yes, a last word." He looked steadily at the student, 
" You have my secret," he said. 

"A young man who declines your offer will know 
how to forget it." 

" That is well said ; I am glad you have said it. 
Some one, you know, may be less scrupulous. Think 
over what I have wished to do for you. I will give you 
two weeks. Take my offer or leave it as you will." 

" Man of iron ! " thought Rastignac, as he watched 
Vautrin walk leisurely away with his cane under his 
arm. " He told me bluntly what Madame de Beauseant 
said in more ambiguous words. He has torn my heart 
with his steel claws. Why am I going to Madame de 
Nucingen's? He guessed my motives, guessed them 
as soon as I conceived them. This brigand has told 
me in two words more about virtue than books or men 
have ever taught me. If there is no compromise with 
virtue, then I have robbed my sisters," he cried, push- 
ing the money-bags away from him and sitting down 
at the table. His thoughts bewildered him. " To be 
faithful to virtue," he said to himself, " is it to suffer 
martyrdom ? Bah ! every one believes in virtue, but 
who is virtuous ? Nations take liberty for their idol, 
but is there upon earth one nation free? My youth 
is still unsullied as the blue of heaven. If I resolve to 
be rich and great, must I bring myself to stooping, ly- 
ing, grovelling, threatening, flattering, deceiving ? Shall 

144 Pere Goriot. 

I make myself the lacquey of those who lie and crawl 
and deceive ? Before I become their accomplice shall 
I be forced to do them service ? No ! I will not ! I 
will toil nobly in the fear of God ; I will labor night 
and day. I will owe my fortune to myself, and my- 
self only. It may be slow in coming, but each night I 
shall lay my head upon my pillow without a shameful 
thought. What can be more blessed than to look back 
upon one's life, and see it pure and stainless as a lily ? 
My life and I are like a bride and her lover Ah ! 
Vautrin showed me what comes to pass after ten years 
of marriage. God ! My head swims I will not 
reason ; the heart is my true guide " 

Pere Goriot. 145 


EUGENE was awakened from his reverie by the voice 
of Sylvie announcing the arrival of his tailor. He went 
in to meet him, carrying his bags of money, a trifling 
circumstance which gave him pleasure. After trying 
on his evening suit, he put on the morning one which 
transformed him completely. "I am quite up to Mon- 
sieur de Trailles," he said to himself complacently. 
"At last I look like a gentleman." 

" Monsieur," said Pere Goriot, coming into Eugene's 
chamber, " you asked me if I knew to whose house 
Madame de Nucingen was going." 


" Well, next Monday she is going to a ball at the 
Marechale Carigliano's. If you are there you will tell 
me how my daughters enjoyed themselves, how they 
were dressed, and all about them?" 

"How did you find it out, my good Pere Goriot?" 
said Eugene, making him sit down by the fire. 

" Her maid told me. I know all they do through 
Therese and Constance," he said gleefully. The old 
man was like a lover, still boyish enough to be de- 
lighted with a stratagem which put him in communi- 
cation with the object of his adoration without her 
knowing it. 

" And you will be there to see them ! " he said in a 
tone of mixed envy and suffering. 

146 Pere Goriot. 

" I don't know yet," replied Eugene. " I am going 
to call on Madame de Beauseant, and I shall ask her 
to introduce me to the Marechale." He was thinking 
with inward joy of showing himself to the viscountess 
in his new clothes, and looking as he intended to look 
for the rest of his days. What moralists call great 
crises in the human heart are commonly the offspring 
of deceptive and involuntary movements of self-interest. 
Sudden changes of purpose hard to understand, unac- 
countable reversals of a first desire, spring generally 
from some calculation in favor of self-indulgence. 
When Rastignac beheld himself well dressed, well 
gloved, well booted, he forgot his virtuous resolutions. 
The young dare not look at themselves in the glass of 
conscience when it reveals them as they should be and 
not as they would be ; older men have the nerve to 
see themselves reflected undisguised. In this lies the 
difference between the ages. 

For some days past Eugene and Pere Goriot had be- 
come close friends. Their intimacy had its origin in 
the same psychological mystery which produced the 
opposite effect upon the student in his relations with 
Vautrin. The bold philosopher who seeks to show 
the influence of mind upon our material being may ob- 
tain many a proof by observing the relations between 
man and animals. What physiognomist is so quick to 
discern character as a dog is to know whether a stranger 
likes or dislikes him ? Les atonies crochus (elective 
affinities) is an expression which has passed into a pro- 
verb, and contains one of those facts permanently im- 
bedded in language as a protest against the stupidity 
of those who make it their business to winnow out of 

Ptre Goriot. 147 

our speech its primitive words. 1 We feel ourselves 
beloved. The feeling stamps itself on everything, and 
ignores space. A letter holds beneath its seal a human 
soul. It is so faithful an echo of the voice that speaks 
too far away for us to hear, that the heart prizes 
written words as among the richest treasures in the 
gift of love. Pere Goriot, raised by his instinctive sen- 
timent to the sublimest heights attainable by canine 
nature, had guessed intuitively the compassion, the 
friendly admiration, and the fresh young sympathy 
which moved the heart of the student towards him. 
But this understanding had as yet led to no confidence 
between them. Though Eugene had expressed a wish 
to see Madame de Nucingen, it was not because he ex- 
pected to be introduced to her by her father ; he merely 
hoped that through him something might turn up to 
aid his plans. Pere Goriot had said nothing to him 
about his daughters, except in connection with what 
had passed in public on the day of his visit to the 

" My dear Monsieur," the old man had remarked the 
next morning, " how could you think that Madame de 
Restaud was displeased with you for mentioning my 
name ? My daughters both love me dearly. I am a 
very happy father ; only my sons-in-law have not be- 
haved well to me. I did not wish to make my two 
dear children suffer because of my misunderstandings 
with their husbands ; so I prefer to see them secretly. 
This mystery gives me many enjoyments, such as fathers 

1 Atomes crochus (hooked atoms), atoms supposed to be 
hooked, according to the system of Democritus and Epicurus, so 
that they catch and hold each other when they meet. Littre. 

148 Pere G-oriot. 

never feel who can see their daughters at an)' moment. 
I cannot always you understand. If I do not see 
them at their homes I go to the Champs-Elysees, 
after finding out from their maids whether they are 
going out that day. I wait to see them pass. How 
my heart beats when I see their carriages ! When 
they come near I admire their toilettes, and they 
give me a pretty laugh as they drive by, which gilds 
the world around me like a ray of sunshine. Then I 
stay about till they return. I see them again. The 
fresh air has done them good ; they have a color in 
their cheeks. I hear people saying, 'There goes a 
beautiful woman,' and my heart leaps for joy. Are 
they not mine? my own flesh and blood? I love 
the very horses in their carriages. I should like to be 
the lap-dog lying on their knees. I live in their happi- 
ness. Everybody has his own way of loving, mine 
does no harm to any one. Why should people trouble 
themselves about me? I am happy after my own 
fashion. No law forbids my standing in the street to 
see my daughters when they come out of their houses 
to go to a ball. Ah ! what a disappointment if I get 
there too late, and the porter says, ' Madame is gone.' 
Once I waited till three in the morning to see my 
Nasie : I had not seen her for two days. Please never 
speak as if my daughters were not kind to me. They 
want to give me all manner of presents ; but I will 
not let them. I always say, ' Keep your money ; what 
could I do with it ? I don't want for anything.' In- 
deed, my dear Monsieur, what am I but an old car- 
cass whose soul is with his daughters all the time? 
When you have seen Madame de Nucingen you must 

Pere Goriot. 149 

tell me which of the two you like better," added the 
old man after a moment's silence, watching Eugene, 
who was making ready to go to the Tuileries and 
lounge away the time until he could call on Madame 
de Beauseant. 

That lounge was fatal to our student. He was so 
young, so handsome, and so well dressed that several 
women took notice of him. When he felt himself the 
object of their admiring glances he forgot the sisters 
and the aunt whom he had despoiled, and all his virtu- 
ous repugnance to crooked paths. Satan, that fallen 
angel, still angelic to the eye, passed in the air 
about him floating on prismatic wing ; that fatal an- 
gel who scatters rubies, wraps women in purple, wings 
golden arrows at the gates of palaces, and sheds a false 
radiance upon thrones once in their origin so simple. 
He gave ear to this demon of vain glory, whose tinsel 
is the symbol of its power. The words of Vautrin, 
cynical as they were, had lodged in his heart and seared 
their way. 

After idling about till five o'clock, Eugene presented 
himselt at Madame de Beauseant's, and received one 
of those sharp checks against which young hearts are 
defenceless. Up to this time he had always found the 
viscountess full of the gracious honeyed courtesy which 
is attainable only through aristocratic training, though 
it is never in perfection unless it springs from the 

When he entered, Madame de Beauseant made a 
chilling gesture, and said coldly, "Monsieur de Ras- 
tignac, I cannot possibly see you to-day ; certainly not 
at this moment I am occupied." 

150 Pere Goriot. 

Rastignac had now become a quick observer. The 
words, gesture, look, the tone of voice, were all signs 
of the habits and character of her caste. He perceived 
the iron hand within the velvet glove, the personality 
and the egoism beneath the manner, the grain of the 
wood below the polish. He heard the Moi, le Hoi 
(" I, the King"), which begins at the throne, but echoes 
from every well-born gentleman and gentlewoman. 
Eugene had trusted too implicitly to the generous im- 
pulses of women. He had signed in good faith the 
charming covenant whose first article proclaims the 
equality of all noble hearts. Kindness given and 
received aright, and knitting two hearts into one, is 
a thing of heaven, as rare in this world as a perfect 
love; both are the overflow of only very rare and 
beautiful souls. 

Rastignac was bent on going to the ball of the 
Duchesse de Carigliano, and therefore he swallowed 
his mortification. 

" Madame," he said in a low voice, "were it not that 
I had something to ask I would not trouble you. Be 
so gracious as to let me see you later. I will wait." 

" Well, come and dine," she said, rather sorry for 
the harshness with which she had treated him ; for at 
heart she was kind as well as stately. 

Though somewhat touched by this sudden relenting, 
Rastignac said to himself as he left the courtyard, 
"Crawl, if you must; bear everything. What can 
other women be, if in a moment the best among them 
forgets her promises of friendship and casts me aside 
like an old shoe? Well, each man for himself! It is 
true her house is not a shop where I have the right to 

Pere G-oriot. 151 

buy the things I want. I do wrong to have need of 
her. As Vautrin says, one should be a cannon-ball, 
and make one's way accordingly." 

Thus, by a sort of fatality, even the trifling events 
of his life conspired to push him into a career where, 
as the terrible sphinx- of the Maison Vauquer warned 
him, he must slay to escape being slain, deceive lest 
he should be deceived, lay down heart and conscience 
at the threshold, put on a mask, use men for his pur- 
poses without pity, and, like the Spartan boy, snatch 
fortune unperceived, if he wished to wear the crown. 

When he went back to dinner at the Hotel Beause- 
ant he found its mistress full of the gracious kindness 
she had hitherto shown him. They went together into 
the dining-room, where Monsieur de Beauseant was 
awaiting his wife, and where Eugene saw for the first 
time all that table luxury which, as every one knows, 
was carried under the Restoration to the highest pitch 
of perfection. Monsieur de Beauseant, like other men 
wearied with the pleasures of the world, cared for lit- 
tle now but good eating. His taste in cookery was 
of the school of Louis XVIII. and the Due d'Escars. 
His table offered a double luxury to his guests, in the 
perfection of its service and the perfection of its menu. 
Nothing of the kind had ever come into the experi- 
ence of Eugene, who was dining for the first time in 
one of those great houses where domestic splendor is 
an hereditary tradition. Fashion had done away with 
the suppers that formerly wound up the balls of the 
Empire, and as yet Eugene had only been invited to 
balls. The aplomb (social self-possession) for which 
he subsequently became so distinguished, and which 

152 Pere Goriot. 

began to show itself even at this early stage of his ca- 
reer, prevented him from betraying his wonder. But 
the sight of all that glittering silver and the thousand 
refinements of a sumptuous table, the pleasure enjoyed 
for the first time of being served noiselessly and with- 
out confusion, made it natural for a youth of lively 
imagination to contrast this elegance with the life of 
privation he had declared himself willing to embrace 
only a few hours before. His thoughts went back for 
a moment to the pension ; and such horror of it filled 
his mind that he swore under his breath to leave it on 
the 1st of January, as much to find himself a better 
lodging as to escape Vautrin, whose huge hand he 
seemed always to feel upon his shoulder. 

If we remember .the thousand shapes that vice takes, 
disguisedly or undisguisedly, in Paris, a man of sense 
must wonder what aberration of mind has led the Gov- 
ernment to place schools and colleges within the city, 
and to collect in the very heart of it a vast assemblage 
of young men. But when we come to discover how 
seldom crimes, or even misdemeanors, are committed 
by students, with what respect must we regard these 
patient sons of Tantalus, who nearly always come off 
conquerors in their combat with temptation. This 
struggle of the student against the world of Paris, if 
it could be painted by the hand of a great master, 
would be the most dramatic subject for art in our 
modern civilization. 

Madame de Beauseant now looked inquiringly at 
Eugene, expecting him to explain what he had to 
ask of her ; but Eugene would say nothing before the 

Pere Groriot. 153 

" Shall you take me to-night to the opera? " asked 
the viscountess of her husband. 

" You cannot doubt the pleasure it would give me 
to be at your disposal," he replied, with an elaborate 
gallantry, of which the student was the dupe ; " but I 
have promised to join some one at the Varietes." 

" His mistress ! " she said to herself. 

" Is not d'Adjuda coming this evening?" he asked. 

" No," she replied shortly. 

" Well, if you are really in need of an escort, here is 
Monsieur de Rastignac." 

The viscountess looked at Eugene with a smile. 

" It may seriously compromise you," she said. 

" ' A Frenchman courts danger, if it leads to glory,' 
as Monsieur de Chateaubriand says," replied Eugene, 
with a bow. 

A few moments later he was driving rapidly with 
Madame de Beauseant to the fashionable theatre, and 
felt himself in fairy-land as he entered a box facing 
the stage, and perceived how many opera-glasses were 
levelled at himself and the viscountess, whose toilette 
that evening was particularly charming. Our poor 
student passed from one enchantment to another. 

" You had something to say to me ? " said Madame 
de Beauseant. " Ah ! stay, there is Madame de 
Nucingen, three boxes from ours. Her sister and 
Monsieur de Trailles are on the other side of the 

As she said this, the viscountess was looking at the 
box where she expected to see Mademoiselle de 
Rochefide ; not finding Monsieur d'Adjuda there, her 
face brightened exceedingly. 

154 Pere Goriot. 

" She is pretty," said Eugene, after having looked 
at Madame de Nucingen. 

" She has white eyebrows." 

" But what a pretty waist ! " 

" She has large hands." 

" Fine eyes." 

" Her face is too long." 

" A long face is said to give distinction." 

" That is lucky for her, then. See how she picks up 
her opera-glass and puts it down ! You can see the 
Goriot in every movement," said the viscountess, much 
to the amazement of Eugene. 

The truth was, Madame de Beauseant, while appar- 
ently looking over all parts of the house and paying 
no attention to Madame de Nucingen, did not lose a 
single one of her movements. The audience was re- 
markably elegant that night, and Delphine de Nu- 
cingen was not a little pleased to perceive that she 
engrossed the attention of Madame de Beauseant's 
handsome cousin, who seemed to single her out for 

" If you continue to look at her you will create a 
scandal, Monsieur de Rnstignac," said the viscountess. 
"You will never succeed if you fling yourself head- 
long at people in that way." 

" My dear cousin," said Eugene, " you have already 
taken me under your protection. If you would now 
complete your work, I will only ask you to do me one 
more favor. It will not hurt you, and it will be of the 
greatest help to me. Do you know, I have taken a 
fancy to her." 


Pere Ooriot. 155 


" That woman ! " 

"Would my devotion be acceptable elsewhere?" he 
asked, with a keen glance at his cousin. After a pause 
he resumed, 

" Madame la Duchesse de Carigliano is attached to 
the household of Madame la Duchesse de Berri. You 
know her, of course. Do me the kindness to introduce 
me to her, and take me to her ball next Monday. I 
shall meet Madame de Nucingen there, and make my 
first essay." 

" Willingly," she said ; " if you really fancy her, you 
will get on easily. There is de Marsay in Princess 
Galathionne's box. Madame de Nucingen can hardly 
contain herself for spite. There could not be a better 
moment for making your way with a woman, especially 
a banker's wife. Those Chaussee d'Antin ladies dearly 
love revenge." 

" What would you do under similar circumstances ? " 

" Suffer, and make no sign." 

At that moment the Marquis d'Adjuda came into 
the box. "I have dispatched my business very badly 
that I might be in time to join you," he said. " I tell 
you this, because if it seems a sacrifice in your eyes 
it is no longer one to me." 

The light that broke over her face taught Eugene 
the difference between a real affection and the shams 
of coquetry. He admired his cousin. He grew silent, 
and yielded his place to Monsieur d'Adjuda with a 
sigh. " What a noble creature such a woman is ! " 
he thought ; " and this man gives her up for a wax 

156 Pere Croriot. 

He felt as angry as a boy. He would have liked to 
fall down at Madame de Beauseant's feet and offer her 
an unlimited devotion, and he looked at Madame de 
Nucingen with a revulsion of feeling, as a man looks 
at an adversary. 

The viscountess turned her head and thanked him 
for his consideration with a little motion of the eyelids. 
The first act was now over. 

" Do you know Madame de Nucingen well enough 
to introduce to her Monsieur de Rastignac?" she said 
to the Marquis d'Adjuda. 

" She will be charmed to know Monsieur," said the 

The handsome Portuguese rose, took the student by 
the arm, and in a moment they were in the box of 
Madame de Nucingen. 

" Madame la baronne," said the marquis, " I have 
the honor to present to you the Chevalier Eugene de 
Rastignac, a cousin of Madame de Beauseant. You 
have made so great an impression on him that I am 
delighted to complete his happiness by bringing him 
into the presence of his divinity." 

These words were said with a slight tone of irony, 
which made the speech a little impertinent. But this 
tone skilfully applied is not altogether displeasing to 
women. Madame de Nucingen smiled and offered 
Eugene her husband's seat, the baron having just left 
the box. 

" I dare not propose to you to remain with me, Mon- 
sieur," she said ; " when any one has the happiness to 
be placed near Madame de Beauseant his first wish is 
to remain there." 

Pere GorioL 157 

" But, Madame," said Eugene, lowering his voice, 
" it seems to me that if I wish to please my cousin I 
shall stay here. Before Monsieur le marquis came into 
her box we were talking of you," he said aloud, " and 
of your air of distinction." 

Monsieur d'Adjuda retired. 

"Are you really going to remain with me, Monsieur?" 
said the baronne ; " shall we at last make acquaintance 
with one another? Madame de Restaud has given me 
a great wish to know you." 

" She is very insincere then. She has shut her doors 
against me." 

"How is that?" 

" Madame, I will tell you plainly the reason ; but I 
must ask your indulgence if I do so. I am the neigh- 
bor of Monsieur, your father, our rooms adjoin. I 
did not know that Madame de Restaud was his daugh- 
ter. I had the want of tact to speak of him, most inno- 
cently but in a way that offended Madame de Restaud 
and her husband. You cannot imagine how much 
Madame la Duchesse de Langeais and my cousin con- 
demn the want of filial feeling on the part of your 
sister. I told them the story, and they laughed at my 
blunder. It was then that, comparing you with your 
sister, Madame de Beauseant spoke most warmly of 
you, and told me how kind you are to my neighbor 
Monsieur Goriot. How indeed could you help loving 
him ? He adores you so passionately that I feel jeal- 
ous already. We were talking of you two hours this 
morning. This evening, as my mind dwelt on what 
he had told me, I said to my cousin with whom I 
was dining, that I did not believe you could be as 

158 Pere Goriot. 

beautiful in person as you were amiable in heart. 
Willing no doubt to favor my admiration, Madame de 
Beauseant brought me with her this evening, telling 
me, in her gracious way, that I should certainly see 
you here." 

"Ah ! Monsieur, do I owe you gratitude already?" 
said the banker's wife ; " a little more and we shall be 
old friends." 

" Friendship must be a noble sentiment when in- 
spired by you," said Rastignac ; " but I shall never ask 
for your friendship." 

Such stereotyped nonsense in the mouths of debu- 
tants seem to please women, and are only absurd when 
written down in cold blood. The gesture, the tone, 
and the glance of a young man lends to such speeches 
a certain charm. Madame de Nucingen was delighted 
with Eugene. Then, as she could say nothing in reply 
to such sentiments, she responded to another part of 
his speech : 

" Yes, my sister does herself harm by the way she 
neglects our poor father, who has been a pei-fect Provi- 
dence to both of us. Monsieur de Nucingen was 
obliged to give me peremptory orders not to receive 
my father among my other guests before I would yield 
the point to him. It has made me very miserable ; I 
have wept over it. His violence on this subject, joined 
to other conjugal unkindness, has greatly troubled my 
domestic happiness. I may be a fortunate woman in 
the eyes of Paris, but I consider myself one of the 
most pitiable. You will think me mad to speak to you 
in this way. But since you know my father I cannot 
feel to you as a stranger." 

Pere Goriot. 159 

" Indeed, you could meet no one," cried Eugene, 
"more desirous of doing you service. What are all 
women striving for ? Is it not happiness ? And if 
happiness for a woman is," he added, in a low voice, 
" to be loved, adored ; to possess a friend in whom 
she may unhesitatingly confide her desires, her fan- 
cies, her griefs, her joys, before whom she can lay 
bare her heart with all its excellences and all its 
weaknesses, and know that her confidence will never 
be betrayed, then, believe me, such a friend can 
only be found in a young man full of illusions, who 
knows nothing of the world, nor ever will know, 
because you will be all the world to him. You will 
laugh at my naivete when I tell you that I have just 
come up from the country, that I am new to the world, 
that I have never known any one who was not good 
and true. I thought I should live without love here 
in Paris; but I have been thrown with my cousin, who 
has deeply touched my feelings ; she has let me see into 
her heart, and I have guessed at treasures of affection. 
Like Cherubin, I am the lover of all women until I 
may devote myself to one. When I saw you to-night 
for the first time, I felt as if I were floated towards 
you by the force of a current. I had been thinking of 
you so much ! But in my dreams you were not as 
beautiful as you are in reality. Madame de Beauseant 
ordered me not to fix my eyes upon you. She could 
not understand the attraction of your sweet lips, your 
lovely color, your soft eyes. I, too, am talking madly, 
but suffer me to say these things to you." 

Nothing pleases some women more than to hear 
such honeyed words. The strictest among them will 

160 Pere Goriot. 

listen, even though she does not respond. Having 
thus begun, Rastignac ran on with more of the same 
kind, telling his beads of coquetry in a low and vi- 
brant voice ; while Madame de Nucingen encouraged 
him by her smiles, all the while keeping an eye upon 
de Marsay, who was still in the box of the Princess 

Rastignac stayed with Madame de Nucingen till her 
husband came to take her home. 

" Madame," said Eugene, " I shall have the honor of 
calling upon you before the ball of the Duchesse de 

" If Matame bresents you there," said the baron, a 
fat Alsatian, whose round face showed signs of danger- 
ous cunning, "so vill you be veil receifed." 

" I am getting on apace," thought Eugene. " She 
was not the least angry when I said, * Could you love 
me ? ' I have bridled my mare ; now let me ride her." 
So thinking, he went to Madame de Beause"ant's box 
to make his bow. She was leaving with Monsieur 
d'Adjufla. Our inexperienced student little knew 
that Madame de Nucingen had not listened to half 
that he said to her. Her mind was occupied by a 
letter she was expecting from de Marsay, that would 
decide her fate. Charmed, however, with his im- 
aginary success, Eugene accompanied the viscountess 
to the vestibule, where all were waiting for their 

" Your cousin does not seem like himself," said the 
Portuguese, laughing, when Eugene had quitted them. 
" He has the air of a fellow who means to break the 
bank. He is as supple as an eel, and I think he will 

Pere Croriot. 161 

get on. It was clever of you to pick out for him a 
woman in need of consolation." 

" Ah ! " said Madame de Beauseant ; " but all de- 
pends, you know, on whether she loves the man who 
is forsaking her." 

Eugene walked back from the theatre to the Rue 
Neuve Sainte-Genevieve with his head brimful of 
visions. He had noticed the attention with which 
Madame de Restaud observed him when in the box 
of the viscountess, and also in that of Madame de 
Nucingen ; and he argued that her doors would not 
long be closed against him. Already he had made 
four important acquisitions in the great world of 
Paris ; for he took it for granted that he should win 
the good graces of the Marechale. Without pre- 
cisely settling how to carry out his plans, he was 
intuitively conscious that in the game he had to 
play among so many complicated interests, he would 
do well to attach himself to some one chariot that 
would whirl him onward, conscious that he was 
strong enough, when his end was gained, to put on 
the brakes. 

" If Madame de Nucingen is interested in me," he 
thought, " I will teach her to manage her husband. 
The baron makes money hand over hand : he might 
help me to some stroke of fortune." 

He did not say this bluntly ; the notion was but a 
light cloud floating above the verge of his horizon ; he 
was not as yet sufficiently advanced to sum up possibili- 
ties and make his calculations, but his ideas, though 
they had not the crude ugliness of Vautrin's, would 
scarcely, if tested in the crucible of conscience, have 

162 Pere GrorioL 

shown much that was pure. It is by a course of 
mental compromises of this kind that men reach the 
stage of relaxed morality which characterizes our 
epoch, an epoch when it is rare, rarer than in any 
other age of the world's history, to find men of high 
principle, men with a sturdy sense of right and wrong, 
firm wills that never bow the knee to evil, natures to 
whom the smallest deviation from the straight path 
seems a sin. Such interpretation of virtue has given 
to the world two masterpieces, one, the Alceste of 
Molijre; the other, Jeannie Deans and her father, by 
Sir Walter Scott. Perhaps the same subject seen 
from its other side a picture of the shifts and wind- 
ings of a man of the world ; an ambitious man, with 
no fixed conscience, who seeks to pick his way along 
the edge of wickedness, and yet save appearances 
while he gains his end may be neither less useful, 
less moral, nor less dramatic. 

By the time Rastignac reached his own door he had 
worked himself into a sham passion for Madame de 
Nucingen. He thought her graceful as a swallow ; he 
admired the enchanting softness of her eyes, the deli- 
cate and silky texture of her skin tinged with the 
blood that flowed beneath it, the music of her voice, 
and her abundant fair hair, he remembered every 
particular ; and perhaps his walk, which had quickened 
his pulses, added to the fascination. He knocked 
sharply at Pere Goriot's door. 

"My neighbor," he said, "I have seen Madame 

' Where ? " 

"At the opera." 

Pere Goriot. 163 

" Did she enjoy herself? Come in," said the old 
man, who got out of bed in his shirt and opened his 
door, and then went back to bed again. " Tell me all 
about her," he said. 

Eugene, who found himself for the first time in 
Pere Goriot's chamber, could not repress a start of 
amazement at the wretchedness in which the father 
lived, comparing it with what he knew of the luxury 
of his daughters. 

The window had no curtain; the paper had peeled 
in strips from the damp wall, showing the plaster yel- 
iow with smoke and age. The old man lay upon a 
wretched bed, with one thin blanket and a wadded 
quilt made out of scraps of Madame Vauquer's old 
gowns. The tiles of the floor were damp, and their 
crevices were filled with dust and dirt. Against the 
wall, opposite to the window, stood an old bureau with 
a swelled front and brass handles representing grape- 
shoots intertwined with leaves and flowers, and a 
wooden stand on which was a water-jug in its basin, 
and a number of shaving utensils. In one corner of 
the room a heap of shoes ; at the bed's head a dilapi- 
dated night-stand without a door. Beside the fire- 
place, where there were no traces of fire, stood the 
square walnut table which had enabled Pere Goriot to 
destroy his porringer. A miserable writing-desk with 
the old man's hat upon it, an arm-chair stuffed with 
straw, and two smaller chairs made up the wretched 
furniture. The pole of the bedstead, fastened by a 
rag to a hook in the ceiling, upheld a coarse curtain of 
red checked gingham. The poorest errand-boy in a 
garret was surely not so miserably lodged as Pere 

164 Pere Goriot. 

Goriot at Madame Vauquer's. The aspect of the 
room chilled and wrung the heart ; it was desolate as 
the condemned cell of a prison. 

Fortunately, Pere Goriot could not see the expres- 
sion on Eugene's face as he put his candlestick on the 
table at the head of the bed. The old man turned 
towards him, and lay covered up to the chin. 

" Well, which do you like better ? " he asked, 
"Madame de Restaud or Madame de Nucingen?" 

" I prefer Madame Delphine," replied the student, 
"because she loves you best." 

As Eugene said these words warmly, Pere Goriot 
put his arm out of bed and pressed his hand. 

" Thank you, thank you ! " he cried eagerly. " What 
did she say about me ? " 

The student repeated the words of the baronne, 
adding some affectionate touches of his own, the old 
man listening as if to a voice from heaven. 

" Dear child ! " he said. " Yes, yes, she loves me 
dearly. But you must not believe what she told you 
of Anastasie. The sisters are a little jealous of each 
other. It is another proof of their affection. Madame 
de Restaud loves me dearly too ; I know it. A father 
is to his daughters what the good God is to all. He 
sees into their hearts, he knows their springs of action. 
Both are affectionate. Oh ! if I had had good sons-in- 
law I should have been a happy man! I suppose there 
is no perfect happiness on earth. If I had been able 
to live with them, to hear their voices, to know them 
near me, to see them as they went out and came in, 
as I did before they married, my heart might not have 
borne such joy. Were they well-dressed ? " 

Pere Goriot. 1G5 

" Yes," said Eugene. " But, Monsieur Goriot, how is 
it that with daughters so wealthy as yours, you live 
in this wretched lodging? " 

" Oh ! " said the old man carelessly, " what better do 
I want ? I cannot explain everything to you ; I never 
could put words together. It is all here ! " he added, 
striking his breast. " My life is bound up in my daugh- 
ters. If they enjoy themselves, if they are well-dressed, 
and have carpets under their feet, what matters it 
what kind of coat I wear, or what sort of a place 
I sleep in ? I am not cold if they are warm ; I am 
not dull if I know they laugh ; I have no sorrows but 
theirs. When you have children you will say, as you 
watch the little creatures prattling round you, ' They 
are part of myself, of my flesh and my blood, the 
flower of my own being.' Yes, I live anew in their 
bodies ; I move with their limbs ; I hear their voices 
answering to mine. One look of theirs, if they are sad, 
chills my blood. Some day you will know that it 
is better to be happy in our children's happiness than 
in our own. I cannot explain it. There are wells of 
inward joy that nourish life. I live three lives, my 
own and theirs. Shall I tell you a strange thing ? 
When I became a father I comprehended God. He is 
present in all things, because all Nature has proceeded 
from him. Monsieur, I am so with my daughters ; 
only I sometimes think our world, such as it is, cannot 
seem so beautiful to God as my girls are to me. My 
heart has such strange connection with all concerning 
them that I know what is happening to them. I knew 
that you would see them this evening. Ah, me ! if any 
one would make my little Delphine happy, I would 

166 Pere Goriot. 

black his boots and do his errands. How could she 
have brought herself to marry that dull log of an 
Alsatian?- They ought to have had noble young hus- 
bands, manly and amiable and good, but they chose 
for themselves ! " 

Pere Goriot was stirred out of himself. Never till 
now had Eugene seen him thus lighted up by the pas- 
sion of paternity. We may here remark on the in- 
filtrating, transforming power of an over -mastering 
emotion. However coarse the fibre of the individual, 
let him be held by a strong and genuine affection, and 
he exhales, as it were, an essence which illuminates 
his features, inspires his gestures, and gives cadence to 
his voice. It happens sometimes that the dullest soul 
under the lash of passion attains to such eloquence of 
thought, if not of language, that it seems to move in lu- 
minous air. As the old man spoke, his voice and man- 
ner had the magnetic power of noble acting. Are not 
our loftiest emotions the poetry of the human will ? 

" I am to see Madame Delphine to-morrow," said 
Eugene, " and I am to meet her at the ball of the 
Duchesse de Carigliano on Monday." 

" Ah ! how I should love you, my young friend, if 
you could shed a ray of brightness on her life ! You 
are good yourself, and kind. But I forget, this room 
is too cold for you. Mon Dien, you heard her voice ! 
What message did she give you for me ? " 

"None at all," thought Eugene; but he said aloud, 
" She told me to tell you that she sent you a daughter's 

" Adieu, my friend. Sleep sound ; dream pleasant 
dreams ; mine will be perfect with that kiss to think 

Pere Goriot. 167 

of. You have been to me to-night like a blessed angel. 
The fragrance of my daughter hangs about you still." 

"Poor man!" sighed Eugene as he went to bed. 
" What he says would touch a heart of stone. His 
daughter no more thought of him than she did of the 
Grand Turk." 

After this conversation, Pere Goriot and his young 
neighbor became intimate friends. Between them ex- 
isted the sole link that could have bound the old man 
to a human being. Strong passions never miscalculate. 
Pere Goriot saw in Rastignac a means of communica- 
tion with his daughters and the possibility of drawing 
nearer to them if the student became intimate with 
the baronne. Eugene was, to use his own expression, 
the most engaging young fellow he had ever seen ; 
and the old man admitted him to his friendship and 
encouraged an intercourse which alone has made it 
possible for us to relate circumstantially the develop- 
ment of this tale. 

163 Pere Goriot. 


THE next morning at breakfast the interest with 
which Pere Goriot looked at Eugene as he took his 
place beside him at the breakfast table, the few words 
that were exchanged between them, and the great 
change in the old man's face, usually as dull as a lump 
of plaster, surprised the other guests. Vautrin, who 
saw the student for the first time since their conference, 
tried to read his soul. During the night-watches Eu- 
gene, far too restless to sleep, had surveyed the fields 
before him, and having naturally thought of Mademoi- 
selle Taillefer and her dot, now looked at her as the 
most virtuous young man in the world looks at a rich 
heiress. It happened that their eyes met. The poor 
girl thought Eugene charming in his new clothes. 
The glance they exchanged was significant enough to 
show him that he was the object of those confused 
desires which come into the hearts of all young girls 
and attach themselves to the first comer who proves 
attractive. A voice within him cried, " Eight hun- 
dred thousand francs ! " Then, with a look at Vautrin, 
he went back to recollections of the opera, and fancied 
that his sham passion for Madame de Nucingen would 
be the antidote to involuntary thoughts of evil. 

"They gave us Rossini's 'Barber of Seville' last 
night," he said. "I never heard such delicious music. 

Pert Goriot. 169 

Dear me! how delightful it must be to have a box at 
the opera 1 " 

Pere Goriot snatched at this speech like a dog 
snapping at a morsel flung from his master's hand. 

*' Ali ! you men live in clover," cried Madame 
Vauquer ; " you can have anything you wish for." 

" How did you get home? " asked Vautrin. 

" On foot," said Eugene. 

" For my part," said the tempter, ' I don't like half 
pleasures. I should prefer to drive to the opera in my 
own carriage, sit in my own box, and come home 
comfortably. All or nothing, that's my motto." 

" And a very good one," said Madame Vauquer. 

" Perhaps you will see Madame de Nucingen to- 
day," said Eugene in a low voice to Pere Goriot. 
" She will receive you with open arms ; she will like 
to hear some particulars about me. I have heard that 
she wishes to be invited to my cousin's, Madame de 
Beauseant. Don't forget to tell her how much I 
admire her, and that I hope to have the pleasure of 
procuring her the invitation." 

Then Rastignac rose and went off to his lecture, 
not caring to spend a moment more than he could help 
in that odious pension. He loitered about the streets 
nearly all day with the fever of youth and its first 
hopes coursing through his veins. He was pondering 
the conditions of social life as revealed by Vautrin's 
chain of reasoning when he met Bianchon in the 
gardens of the Luxembourg. 

" What makes you so grave, old fellow ? " said the 
medical student, taking his arm as they walked along 
the front of the palace. 

170 P3re Goriot. 

" I am tormented by evil thoughts." 

"What sort of evil thoughts? Tell me; thoughts 
can be ourc'l." 


" By giving in to them." 

" You don't know what you are laughing at. Did 
you ever read Rousseau ? " 

" Yes." 

"Do you remember where he asks the reader what 
he would do if he could make himself rich by killing 
an old mandarin in China by simply willing it in 


** Well, I want your opinion. What would you do? " 

"Pooh ! I 've got to my thirty-third mandarin." 

" Don't joke ; be serious. Suppose it was proved to 
you that such a thing was possible, and that it only 
needed just a nod from you, would you do it?" 

"Is the mandarin very old? But, bah! young 
or old, well or paralyzed, Heavens and earth! 
the deuce ! Well, then No ! " 

" You are a good fellow, Bianchon. But suppose 
you loved a woman well enough to turn your soul 
wrong-side out for her; and if she wanted money, 
lots of money, for her toilette, her carnage, her 
whims " 

*' You bewilder my faculties, and then you want me 
to reason ! " 

" Well, see here ! Bianchon, I am mad. I want 
you to cure me. I have two sisters who are angels of 
beauty and goodness, and I want thorn to be happy. 
How can I, between now and five years hence, get 

P2re Goriot. 171 

two hundred thousand francs for their dot? There 
are circumstances you know in which one must play 
high and not waste one's luck in winning pennies." 

** But that 's the very question that stands upon the 
threshold of every man's life; and yon want to cut the 
Gordian knot with the sword ! To do this, my dear 
fellow, one must be Alexander, or else we commit 
gome crime and are sent to the galleys. For my part, 
I am quite content with the life which I expect to lead 
in the provinces, where I shall succeed my father in a 
commonplace way. After all, a man's affections can 
be as fully satisfied in a little round as in a vast cir- 
cumference. Napoleon could not eat two dinners a 
day. A man's happiness lies between the soles of his 
feet and the crown of his head. Whether that happi- 
ness costs a million of francs a year, or a hundred louts, 
our intrinsic perception of it is the same. So I go in 
for letting the mandarin alone." 

"Thank you, you have done me good, Bianchon. 
Let us always be friends." 

"Look here!" resumed the medical student, as they 
left the Cours de Cuvier in the Jardin des Plantes, 
'* I have just seen old Michonneau and Poiret on a 
bench talking with a man whom I saw during the 
troubles of last year in the neighborhood of the 
Chamber of Deputies. He looks to me like a police- 
spy disguised as a respectable bourgeois living on 
his income. Let us watch that couple. I will tell 
you why later. Adieu, I must be off to the four- 
o'clock (all.'" 

When Eugene returned to Madame Vauquer's, he 
found Pere Goriot waiting for him. 

172 P$re G-oriot. 

"See," said the old man, "here is a note from her. 
Hein / what pretty writing ! " 

Eugene broke the seal and read : 

MONSIEUR, My father tells me that you are fond of 
Italian music. I should be happy if you would do me the 
pleasure to accept a seat in my hox on Saturday next. We 
shall have Fodor and Pellegrini ; I am sure therefore that 
you will not refuse my invitation. Monsieur de Nucingen 
joins me in begging you to dine with us on that day without 
ceremony. If you accept, you will render him grateful to be 
released from his conjugal duty of escorting me to the opera. 
Do not reply, but come. Accept my compliments. 

D. de N. 

"Let me look at it," said Pere Goriot to Eugene 
when he had read the letter. " You will certainly go, 
won't you? " he added, putting his cheek to the paper. 
*' How good it smells ! Her lingers have touched it !" 

" A woman does not fling herself at a man without 
some motive," said the student to himself. " She 
must want to make use of me to get de Mai-say back 
again. Nothing but spite could account for her send- 
ing me such a letter." 

" Well," said Pere Goriot, " what are you thinking 

Eugene knew nothing of a social delirium that 
possessed the women of the Chaussee d'Antin at that 
period. He was not aware that the wife of a banker 
in that quarter would do almost anything that might 
open her way into the salons of the Faubourg Saint- 
Germain. At that period fashion was just beginning 
to exalt above all other women those who composed 
the society of the old nobility, known by the name of 

Pere G-oriot. 173 

Les Dames du petit Ohdteait. Among them Madame 
de Bcauseant, her friend the Duchesse de Langeais, and 
the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse held the first rank. Ras- 
tignac was the only man with an entree to these houses 
who was not aware of the eagerness of the Chaussee 
d'Antin ladies to enter that superior sphere and shine 
among its constellations. But his mistrustfulness be- 
friended him on this occasion. It made him receive the 
invitation very coldly, and gave him the poor power of 
doing a favor instead of accepting one. 

" Yes, I will go," he said. 

Thus the chief motive that took him to Madame de 
Nucingen's was curiosity ; had she shown indifference, 
he might have been influenced by passion. Never- 
theless, he looked forward to the meeting with some 
impatience, and enjoyed, as he dressed for dinner, 
all those little satisfactions which young people are 
ashamed to speak of for fear of ridicule, but which 
pleasantly stimulate their self-love. Pie thought as 
he arranged his hair how the eyes of a pretty woman 
would linger among the black curls; he played the 
little tricks and vanities of a young girl dressing for 
her first ball, and smiled at the reflection of his slim 
figure as he smoothed out the folds of his new coat, 
and turned himself about before the glass. 

" One thing is very certain," he said complacently ; 
" it is not every man who is well-made." 

He went downstairs at the moment when the house- 
hold were sitting down to dinner, and laughed as he 
received a broadside of nonsensical remarks on his 
elegant appearance. The excitement produced by any 
attention to the toilet is a trait of manners peculiar to 

174 Pere G-oriot. 

pensions bourgeoises, where every one has a word to 
say on the unaccustomed appearance of a new dress or 
a new coat. 

" Kt, kt, kt, kt ! " cried Bianchon, clicking his tongue 
as if exciting a horse. 

" Duke and peer of France!" said Madame Vauqner. 

"Monsieur is arrayed for conquest," observed Ma- 
demoiselle Michonneau. 

" Cock-a-doodle-doo ! " crowed the painter. 

" My compliments to your wife," said the employe 
at the museum. 

" Has Monsieur a wife ? " asked Poiret. 

" A wife in compartments that will go in the wa- 
ter warranted fast colors at all prices from twenty- 
five to forty the most fashionable patterns in plaids 
sure to wash very pretty wear half thread, half 
cotton, half wool cures the toothache and all other 
maladies under the patronage of the Academy of 
Medicine excellent for children better still for 
head-ache, plethora, and other affections of the stomach, 
ears, and eyes! " cried Vautrin, with the intonation 
and volubility of an auctioneer. " How much do you 
bid for this wonder, gentlemen? Two sous! What 
did you say? Nothing? It is the last article made 
for the Great Mogul, which all the Reigning Sov- 
ereigns of Europe, including the Gr-r-r-r-r-rand Duke 
of Baden, have been on the look-out for. Walk in ; 
keep straight before you ; pass into the inner office. 
Strike up the music! Brooum, la, la, trinn ! la, la, 
bourn, bourn ! Monsieur the clarionet, you are out 
of tune," he went on in a hoarse voice ; " I '11 rap you 
over the knuckles ! " 

Pere G-oriot. 175 

" Mon Dieu ! how agreeable that man can make 
himself!" said Madame Vauquer to Madame Couture, 
" I should never have a moment's ennui if I lived with 

In the midst of the laughter and the jokes led off 
by this absurdity, Eugene intercepted a furtive glance 
of admiration from Mademoiselle Taillefer, who whis- 
pered a few words in her aunt's ear. 

*' The cabriolet is here," announced Sylvie. 

"Where does he dine?" asked Bianchon. 

" With Madame la Baronne de Nucingen." 

" Pere Goriot's daughter," added the student. 

At these words everybody looked at the old man, 
who was gazing at Eugene with envy in his eyes. 

Rastignac found the house in the Rue Saint-Lazare 
one of those flimsy buildings, with slim pillars and fan- 
ciful porticos, which in Paris are classed as pretty; a 
banker's house, in short, overloaded with costly orna- 
ment and stucco, the halls and staircase-landings inlaid 
with marbles. Madame de Nucingen received him in 
a small room filled with Italian pictures and decorated 
in the style of a restaurant. She seemed to be in 
trouble, and the efforts which she made to conceal her 
feelings affected Eugene all the more because they 
were evidently genuine. He came expecting to charm 
her by his presence ; he found her the image of des- 
pair, and the disappointment piqued his self-love. 

" I have little claim to your confidence, Madame," 
he said, after bantering her slightly on her preoccupa- 
tion, "and if I am in your way I count upon your 
kindness to tell me so frankly." 

176 Pere Goriot. 

" No, stay," she said ; " I should be alone if you left 
me. Nucingen dines out to-day, and I do not wish to 
be alone. I need something to interest me." 

" What troubles you ? " 

" You are the last person I could tell it to," she 

"But you must tell me. Have I anything to do 
with it?" 

" Perhaps But, no ! " she resumed, " it is one of 
those family quarrels that ought to be hidden from 
other eyes. Did I not tell you the other evening that 
I am far from happy? A chain of gold is the heaviest 
to bear." 

When a woman tells a young man that she is not 
happy, and when the young man is clever, handsome, 
well-dressed, and has fifteen hundred francs worth of 
leisure in his pocket, he will probably think all that 
Rastignac now thought, and speak as he did, like a 

" What can you lack ? " he said. " You are young, 
beautiful, wealthy, and beloved! " 

"Do not let us talk of myself," she cried, arresting 
him with a gesture. " We will dine together tete-a-tete, 
and then go and hear some delicious music. Do you 
like me in this dress?" she continued, rising and dis- 
playing a robe of white cashmere embroidered with 
Persian designs, very elegant and costly. 

" I would you Were altogether mine ! " cried Eugene. 
" You are lovely ! " 

" You would have a melancholy possession," she said 
with a bitter smile. " Nothing about me indicates 
unhappinees, and yet in spite of appearances I am 

Pere Goriot. 177 

wretched. I cannot sleep for thinking of my troubles. 
I am growing ugly " 

" Oh, that can never be ! " cried the student. " Tell 
me, what troubles have you that my devotion cannot 
cure ? " 

" Ah ! if I told you, you would turn and leave me," 
she said ; " your love for me is only the conventional 
gallantry that men affect towards women. If you 
really loved me, and I were to tell you my troubles 
you would fall into despair. So you see I must not 
tell you. For pity's sake," she added, " let us talk of 
other things. Come and see my apartments." 

" No, let us stay here," said Eugene, seating himself 
on a low couch near the fire beside Madame de Nucin- 
gen, and taking her hand with assurance. She allowed 
him to do so, and even pressed his fingers with the ner- 
vous grasp that betrays strong emotion. 

" Listen ! " said Rastignac, " if you have griefs, con- 
fide them to me. Let me prove how much I love you. 
Either speak, and tell me these troubles and let me help 
you, I am capable of killing six men for your sake, 
or I will leave this house never to return." 

" Well, then ! " she exclaimed, moved by an impulse 
which made her strike her forehead with her hand, '* I 
will put you to the proof at once. Yes," she added, 
" there is no other way." 

She rang the bell. 

" Is Monsieur's carriage waiting ? " she said to the 

" Yes, Madame." 

" I will take it. You can give him mine and my 
horses. You need not serve dinner till seven o'clock." 

178 Pere Goriot. 

" Now, come," nhe said to Eugene, who found himself 
as in a dream sitting beside her in Monsieur de Nucin- 
gen's coupe. 

" To the Palais-Royal," she said to the coachman, 
" and stop near the Theatre Franqais." 

As they drove on she seemed greatly agitated, and 
would not answer Eugene, who knew not what to 
think of the mute obtuse resistance she opposed to his 

" In another moment she may escape me," he said to 

When the carriage stopped, she looked at him with 
an expression which silenced the foolish speeches he 
was beginning to utter. 

"Do you love me then so very much ? " she asked. 

" Yes," he replied, concealing his uneasiness. 

"You will think no evil of me whatever I ask of 
you ? " 

" No." 

" Will you obey me ? " 


" Did you ever go to a gambling-house ? " and her 
voice trembled. 

" Never." 

"Ah! then I breathe. You will have luck. Here 
is my purse. Take it," she said, " yes, take it. There 
are one hundred francs in it, all the money owned 
by this wealthy and fortunate woman ! Go into 
some gambling-room. I do not know where they 
are, but I know there are many in the Palais-Royal. 
Stake these hundred francs at a game they call rou- 
lette, and either lose them all or bring me back six 

Pere Croriot. 179 

thousand francs. I will tell you my troubles when 
you return." 

" The devil take me if I understand what you wish 
me to do, but I am ready to obey you," he said, reflect- 
ing with satisfaction that she was thus putting herself 
in his power. 

He took the pretty purse and hastened to Number 
Nine, after obtaining from a neighboring shopkeeper 
the direction of the nearest gambling-house. He went 
upstairs, permitted an attendant to take his hat, and 
entered the room, where he asked to be shown the 
roulette. All present looked astonished as the man in 
attendance took him to a long table. Eugene, who 
was followed by the whole company, asked, without 
the least embarrassment, where he was to place his 

" If you put one louis on any of these thirty-six num- 
bers and it comes up, you will win thirty-six louis" said 
a respectable-looking old man with white hair. 

Eugene placed the whole hundred francs on the 
number of his own age, twenty-one. A cry of aston- 
ishment broke from every one before he knew himself 
what had happened. He had won. 

" Take up your money," said the old gentleman ; 
" people do not win twice in that way." 

Eugene took a rake which the speaker handed to 
him, and drew in three thousand six hundred francs. 
Once more, knowing nothing of the game, he placed 
his money on the red. The bystanders looked at him 
with envy, seeing that he played on. The wheel turned, 
he won again ; and the croupier threw him another 
three thousand six hundred francs. 

180 Pere Goriot. 

" You have won seven thousand two hundred francs," 
whispered the old gentleman. " Tnke my advice and 
go away. The red has come up eight times. If you 
are kind-hearted, you will acknowledge my good ad- 
vice and have pity on the poverty of an old prefect 
of Napoleon, who is penniless." 

Rastignac, bewildered, suffered the old man with the 
snow-white hair to help himself to ten louis, and then 
went downstairs with his seven thousand francs, under- 
standing nothing of the game, and stupefied by his 
good fortune. 

"Ah, faf where will you take me now?" he said, 
showing the seven thousand francs to Madame de Nu- 
cingen as soon as the carriage door was shut. 

Delphine threw her arms about him and kissed him 
effusively, but without passion. 

"You have saved me!" she cried. Tears flowed 
down her cheeks. " I will tell you all, my friend, 
for you are my friend, are you not ? You see me 
rich and prosperous. I want for nothing so it seems 
to you ? Well, then, I must tell you that Monsieur de 
Nucingen does not give me a single penny to spend as 
I choose. He pays for everything, for the household, 
for rny carriages, even my opera-box. He allows me 
a sum insufficient for my toilette ; he has reduced me 
to secret poverty. I am too proud to beg for money. 
Do you ask why, when I brought him seven hundred 
thousand francs, I have suffered myself to be thus 
despoiled? Through pride, through indignation! A 
girl is so young, so easily deceived, when she is first 
married. To have asked my husband for money then 
would have scorched my mouth ; I dared not. I lived 

Pere Q-oriot. 181 

on what I had saved, and on what I could get from my 
poor father. Then I ran in debt. My marriage from 
first to last has been a horrible deception ; I cannot 
speak of it. We live apart ; I would rather fling my- 
self from a window than be reconciled to him. When 
I was forced to tell him of my debts, for jewelry and 
various whims and trifles (my poor father had accus- 
tomed ns to every indulgence), I suffered martyrdom. 
At last I took courage and made my confession had 
I not brought him a fortune ? Nucingen was furi- 
ous. He said I should ruin him Oh ! he said such 
horrible things! I wished myself a hundred feet 
under ground. He paid my bills on that occasion be- 
cause he had possession of my dot ; but he stipulated 
that in future I should take a fixed annual allowance 
for my personal expenses. I agreed, for the sake of 
peace. Since then I have been anxious to do credit 
to one whom you know of," she continued. " He has 
not been true to me, but I must not cease to do justice 
to the nobleness of his character. He has cruelly for- 
saken me. Oh ! no one should forsake a woman, es- 
pecially when they have flung her a pile of money in 
the day of her distress oh ! they ought to love her 
always. You, with the nobility of youth, pure and 
fresh, you may well ask me how a woman could take 
gold from a man in that relation ! But is it not natu- 
ral to have all things in common with those to whom 
we owe our happiness? Money has no importance 
in itself, none, until love grows cold. Do we not 
fancy that love will last a lifetime ? Who calculates 
on separation? Shall those who have vowed to be 
true eternally set up divided interests? I can never 

182 Pere Goriot. 

tell what I suffered to-day when Nucingen refused to 
give me six thousand francs, less than he gives each 
month to his mistress, a danseuse at the opera! I 
longed to kill myself : I envied my own waiting-maid. 
Ask my father for money ? it would be madness. 
Anastasie and I have ruined him. My poor father 
would sell himself for either of us, if any one would 
pay six thousand francs for him. I should drive him 
to despair in vain. You have saved me from shame, 
from death ! I was frantic in my wretchedness. Ah ! 
Monsieur, I owe you this explanation. I have been 
beside myself this evening, let that be my excuse. 
When you left me, when I lost sight of you, I had an 
impulse to jump from the carriage and flee away on 
foot, I knew not whither. Such is the life led by half 
the women of Paris, luxury without, and bitter cares 
within. I know poor creatures more wretched than I 
am. There are women who get their creditors to send 
in false accounts, and rob their husbands. Some men 
believe that cashmeres worth two thousand francs are 
sold for five hundred ; others that a shawl worth five 
hundred francs costs a thousand. There are women 
who even starve their children ; women who will com- 
mit any meanness to get enough to buy a gown. I 
am pure at least from such deceptions. Ah! to-night 
Monsieur de Marsay will no longer have the right to 
think of me as a woman he has paid ! " She dropped 
her face between her hands that Eugene might not 
see her tears; but he drew them away and looked 
at her. 

" To mix up money with love ! is it not horrible ?" 
she said. " You can never think well of me ! " 

Pere Goriot. 183 

This union of good feelings and acquired faults, 
faults forced upon her by the corrupt society in which 
she lived, overcame Eugene, who said soft words of 
consolation as he gazed at the beautiful creature so 
naively imprudent in the excitement of her grief. 

" You will not turn this confession against me ? 
Promise me that you never will," she said. 

"Ah, Madame, I am incapable of doing so." 

She took his hand and placed it on her heart, with a 
gesture full of grace and gratitude. " Thanks to you 
I am free and happy. I was pressed to earth by an 
iron hand. I am free ; I will live simply from this 
moment ; I will spend little. You will like me as I am, 
will you not? as I am, my friend. Keep this," she 
added, retaining six notes of a thousand francs, and 
offering Rastignac the seventh. " In "strict justice I 
owe you half, for I consider that we are partners." 

Eugene protested with a sense of shame, till Madame 
de Nucingen exclaimed, " I shall regard you as my 
enemy if you refuse to be my accomplice." 

" Then I will hold it in reserve in case of future ill- 
luck," he said, as he took the note. 

" Ah ! that is what I feared," she said, turning pale. 
" If you wish me to be your friend, promise me 
swear to me that you will never return to the gam- 
bling table. Alas, alas ! think of my corrupting you ! 
I ought to perish sooner ! " 

Thus they reached the house in the Rue Saint-Lazare. 
The contrast of its opulence with the poverty of its 
mistress stunned the student, in whose ears the words 
of Vautrin re-echoed as with fatal ty-uth. 

" Sit there," said Madame de Nucingen, pointing to 

184 Pere G-oriot. 

a sofa near the fire, when they entered her room. " I 
have to write a trying letter. Give me your advice." 

" Do not write at all," said Eugene. " Put the notes 
in an envelope, address it merely, and send the letter 
by your waiting-maid." 

"Oh! you are too delightful!" she cried. "See, 
Monsieur, what it is to have been brought up in the 
traditions of good breeding. Ceci est du Beauseant 
tout pur" she added, smiling. 

" She is charming," thought Eugene, pleased with 
the flattery. He looked round the room, which was 
arranged with a meretricious taste better suited, he 
thought, to the quartier Breda. 

"Do you like it?" asked Madame de Nucingen, 
ringing for her maid. " Therese, take this letter to 
Monsieur de Marsay. Give it into his own hand. If 
you do not find him, bring it back." 

As Therese left the room she threw an inquisitive 
glance at Eugene. Dinner was now served, and 
Rastignac gave his arm to Madame de Nucingen, who 
led him into a gorgeous dining-room where he again 
found all the table luxury he had admired at his 

" On the nights of the Italian opera you must 
always dine with me," she said, " and escort me to the 

" I could soon accustom myself to so delightful a 
life if it would only last," he answered ; " but I am 
a poor student, with my fortune to make." 

" It will make itself," she said laughing ; " you see 
how things come to pass. I little expected to be so 

Pere Goriot. 185 

It is the nature of women to argue the impossible 
from the possible, and to destroy facts by building on 

When Madame de Nucingen and Rastignac entered 
their box at the opera she was so beautiful in her 
recovered peace of mind that people began to whisper 
those trifling calumnies against which women are 
defenceless, however false may be the premises on 
which they are based. Those who know Paris well 
are careful to believe nothing that they hear, and also 
to tell nothing that they know. Eugene took the 
hand of his companion, and they silently communicated 
to each other by pressure the sensations with which 
the music flooded their souls. The evening was full of 
enchantment, and when they left the Opera House 
Madame de Nucingen insisted on taking Eugene as 
far as the Pont-Neuf, disputing with him on the way 
another of those kisses which she had given him of her 
own accord in the Palais-Royal. Eugene reproached 
her for the inconsistency. 

"No then" she said, "it was gratitude for an 
unexpected deliverance ; now it would be a pledge " 

" And you will not grant me that pledge," he said, 
half angrily. She made a gesture of impatience and 
gave him her hand to kiss, which he took with an ill 
grace that completely charmed her. 

" Monday at the ball," she said as they parted. 

Eugene walked home in the brilliant moonlight 
with his mind full of serious reflections. He was 
pleased and yet dissatisfied: pleased at an adventure 
which threw him into the closest intimacy with one of 
the prettiest and most fashionable women of Paris ; 

186 P$re Goriot. 

dissatisfied at seeing his projects for the future over- 
thrown, for he now perceived how much he had 
really built upon the vague visions of the day before. 
Want of success increases rather than diminishes the 
strength of our wishes. The more Eugene tasted the 
pleasures of Parisian life, the less he liked the prospect 
of toil and poverty. He fingered the bank-note in his 
pocket, and thought of a hundred reasons to justify 
him in keeping it. As he reached the Rue Neuve 
Sainte-Genevieve and ran upstairs, he saw a light on 
the landing. Pere Goriot had left his door ajar and 
his rush-light burning, that the student might not 
forget to come in and relate to him his daughter, as he 
expressed it. Eugene told him everything. 

"What!" cried Pere Goriot, in a transport of 
jealous despair, "do they think me ruined? I have 
still an income of thirteen hundred francs. JJbn 
Dieu! my poor darling, why did she not come to me? 
I could have sold out my stocks. I could have given 
her what she wanted from the capital, and bought an 
annuity with the rest. Why did you not come and 
tell me, my good neighbor? How could you have had 
the heart to risk her poor little hundred francs. It 
breaks my heart This is what it is to have sons- 
in-law! And she wept you say she wept? my 
Delphine, who never wept before when she was my 
own little one ! By her marriage contract she is 
entitled to her money. I shall see Derville the law- 
yer, to-morrow. I shall insist on the separate invest- 
ment of her fortune. I know the law. I am an old 
wolf yes ! and I shall get the use of my teeth 
again ! " 

Pere Goriot. 187 

" See, pere, here are a thousand francs which she 
insisted on giving me out of our winnings. Keep 
them for her." 

Goriot looked at Eugene and grasped his hand, on 
which the old man dropped a tear. 

" You will succeed in life," he said. "God is just, 
you know. I know what honesty is, and I tell you 
few men would have done as you have done. My son, 
go now ; go and sleep. You can sleep, for you are 
not yet a father Oh, she wept ! While I was 
quietly eating my dinner, dull fool that I am, she was 
suffering! I who would sell my soul to save them 
from unhappiness ! " 

" On my honor," said Eugene, as he laid his head 
on his pillow, " I will be an honest man as long as I 
live. There is great happiness in following the in- 
spirations of one's conscience." 

Perhaps none but those who believe in a good God 
can do good in secret. Eugene was a believer still. 

On the evening of the ball Rastignac went to 
Madame de Beauseant's, who took him with her and 
presented him to the Duchesse de Carigliano. He had 
a gracious reception from the Marechale, and found 
Madame de Nucingen already there. Delphine, who 
had dressed with the intention of pleasing others that 
she might the better please Eugene, waited impatiently 
to catch his eye, though carefully concealing her im- 
patience. For one who can read a woman's heart 
such a moment is full of charm. What man does not 
delight in making a woman wait eagerly for his 
judgment, disguising his own pleasure that he may 

188 Pere G-oriot. 

win this signal of her preference, enjoying her uneasi- 
ness as he plays upon the fears he can set at rest by a 
smile ? 

As the evening advanced, Rastignac began to per- 
ceive the full bearings of his position, and to under- 
stand that he held rank among those around him as 
the acknowledged cousin of Madame de Beauseant. 
The conquest of Madame de Nucingen, with which he 
was credited, placed him at once under observation ; 
young men looked at him with envy, and as he caught 
their glances he tasted the first sweets of gratified 
social vanity. Passing from room to room and from 
group to group, he heard his own praises ; ladies pre- 
dicted his success ; and Delphine, afraid of losing him, 
promised not to refuse the kiss she had denied him the 
day before. He received several invitations during 
the evening, and was presented by his cousin to a num- 
ber of ladies noted for their elegance, whose houses 
ranked among the most agreeable in the Faubourg. 
Thus he found himself admitted into the inner circle 
of the great world of Paris. This evening was for 
him a brilliant debut, remembered to the last hour of 
his life, as a young girl remembers the ball where she 
won her first triumphs. 

The next morning, at the breakfast-table, when he 
began to relate his successes to Pere Goriot in pre- 
sence of the other guests, Vautrin listened with diabol- 
ical amusement to the tale. 

" Now, do you really think," exclaimed that fierce 
logician, " that a young man of fashion can continue to 
live in the Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve, in the Maison 
Vauquer? a. pension infinitely respectable in every 

Pere Goriot. 189 

way, no doubt, but which assuredly is not fashiona- 
ble. It is comfortable, it is cosey, delightful in its abun- 
dance, proud of being temporarily the abode of a de 
Kastignac ; but after all it is in the Rue Neuve Sainte- 
Genevieve, and it boasts no luxury, being above all 
things patriarchalorama. My young friend," contin- 
ued Vautrin, with paternal irony, "if you hope to 
make a figure in Paris, you must have three horses 
and a tilbury for the morning, and a coupe for the 
evening: nine thousand francs for the equipages alone. 
You will fall shamefully below the requirements of 
your destiny if you spend less than three thousand 
with your tailor, six hundred with your perfumer, 
and six hundred more between your bootmaker and 
your hatter. As for your washerwoman, she will 
cost you a thousand francs. Young men of fash- 
ion are above all things bound to be irreproachable 
in the matter of washing. Love and the Church 
alike demand fine linen. Now, we have got up to 
fourteen thousand. I don't count all that cards and 
bets and presents will cost you, you certainly can't 
do with less than two thousand francs a year for 
pocket-money. I have led that life myself, and I 
know how it goes. Now, add to these things which 
are indispensable, mind you three hundred louis for 
subsistence, and a thousand francs for rent. That 
brings us up, my boy, to the pretty little sum of twen- 
ty-five thousand francs a year, which we must have in . 
hand, or over we go into the mud, with people laugh- 
ing at us, and our future lost, including all our 
youthful dreams of fortune and women ! Ah ! I forgot 
the groom and the valet. Could Christophe carry 

190 Pere Goriot. 

your lillets-doux? Shall you write them upon law- 
paper? My dear boy, you would cut your throat. 
Take the advice of an old man full of experience," he 
concluded ; " either transport yourself into a virtuous 
garret and wed toil, or choose some other way to 
reach your end." 

Here Vautrin glanced at Mademoiselle Taillefer, 
with an eye that recalled and emphasized the seduc- 
tive arguments he had already dropped into the stu- 
dent's heart to breed corruption. 

Pere Goriot. 191 


SEVERAL clays passed, and Rastignac led a dissipated 
life. He dined constantly with Madame de Nu- 
cingen, and accompanied her into the great world, 
getting home at three or four o'clock in the morning. 
He usually rose at midday and made his toilet ; after 
which, if it were fine, he drove to the Bois with Del- 
phine, idling away his days withoiit thought of their 
value, and assimilating the lessons and seductions of 
luxury with the eagerness of the female date-tree as it 
absorbs the fecundating pollen from the atmosphere. 
He played high, lost and Avon heavily, and soon accus- 
tomed himself to the extravagant habits of the young 
men around him. Out of the first money which he 
won he sent fifteen hundred francs to his mother and 
sisters, accompanying the restitution with some pretty 
presents. Although he had given out his intention to 
quit the Maison Vauquer, he was still there in the last 
week of January, and did not well see how he could 
get away. Young men are governed by a law that 
seems at first sight inexplicable, but which springs 
from their youth and from the species of madness with 
which they fling themselves into the enjoyments of 
life. Be they rich or be they poor, they never have 
money enough for the necessities of living, though 
they always find the wherewithal to spend on their 
caprices. Lavish when they can buy on credit, stingy 

192 Pere Croriot. 

as to all that they must pay for in hard cash, they 
seem to indemnify themselves for the lack of what they 
crave by squandering what they have. Thus, by 
way of illustration, a student takes more care of his 
hat than he does of his coat. The enormous profit of 
the tailor makes it reasonable that he should wait for 
his money ; but the small gains of a hatter render him 
impervious to the question of credit. Though the 
young man sitting in the balcon of a theatre may dis- 
play to the opera-glasses of pretty women the most 
magnificent of waistcoats, no one can be certain that 
his socks would bear inspection : the hosier is one of 
those who must be paid in ready money. Rastignac 
had reached this point in his career. His purse, always 
empty for Madame Vauquer, always full for the needs 
of vanity, had its ups and downs, its ebbs and flows, 
which by no means agreed with the natural demands 
upon it. Before quitting that abject and evil-smelling 
abode, where his new pretensions were daily humili- 
ated, must he not pay a month's lodging to his land- 
lady, and buy furniture fit for a man of fashion before 
he could install himself in a new apartment? This 
remained steadfastly the thing impossible. To get 
money for the gambling-table, Rastignac had readily 
found out how to buy watches and chains from his 
jeweller at enormous prices, to be paid for out of his 
winnings, and to be pawned as soon as bought with 
that solemn and discreet friend of youth, the Mont-de- 
Piete; but his ingenuity had failed to discover any 
device whereby to pay Madame Vauquer, or to buy 
the tools necessary to keep up his life of elegance and 
fashion. Vulgar present necessity, or the debts con- 

Pere G-oriat. 193 

tracted for past pleasures, gave him no inspiration. 
Like most of those who lead this life of chance, he put 
off as long as possible paying his current debts (which 
are the most sacred in the eyes of plain people), after 
the example of Mirabeau, who never paid his baker's 
bill till it took the compelling form of a promissory note. 
At this special time the last of January Rastignac 
had been losing heavily, and was in debt. He was 
beginning to see that he could not continue to lead 
this kind of life without fixed resources. But sighing 
over the difficulties of his precarious position did not 
bring him to resign the pleasures of the great world ; 
on the contrary, he felt incapable of the sacrifice, and 
resolute to push on at any price. The chances on 
which at first he had built his hopes of fortune he 
now saw to be chimerical, while his real difficulties 
grew greater every day. As he became familiar with 
the domestic secrets of Monsieur and Madame de Nu- 
cingen, he saw that to convert love into an instrument 
of fortune it was necessary to drink the cup of shame 
to the very dregs, and renounce forever all those noble 
ideas which are the absolution of youthful errors. To 
this life, outwardly splendid, inwardly gnawed by the 
tcenias of remorse, and whose fugitive pleasures were 
dearly paid for by persistent anguish, he was now 
wedded. Like La Bruycre's absent-minded man, he 
had made his bed in the slime of the ditch ; but, like 
him again, he had as yet only soiled his clothes. 

" Well ! have we killed the mandarin ? " said Bian- 
chon one day as they rose from table. 

" Xot yet," he answered, " but he is at his death- 


194 Pere Goriot. 

The medical student took this for a joke, but he was 
mistaken. Eugene, who had dined that day at the 
pension after a long absence, seemed thoughtful and 
preoccupied. Instead of leaving after the dessert, he 
remained in the dining-room sitting near Mademoiselle 
Taillefer, on whom from time to time he threw reflect- 
ing glances. Some of the guests still lingered at table 
eating nuts ; others were walking up and down con- 
tinuing their conversation. They left the room, as they 
did every evening, each as he pleased, according to the 
interest he took in the conversation or the amount of 
rest required by his digestion. In winter the dining- 
room was seldom empty before eight o'clock; after 
which hour the four women remained alone and made 
up for the silence imposed upon them by the masculine 
majority. Struck by Eugene's preoccupation, Vautrin, 
who at first had seemed in a hurry to get away, stayed 
after the others had departed, and placed himself cau- 
tiously just within the door of the salon, so that Eugene 
could not see him, and might therefore believe him 
gone. He read the mind of the student, and saw that 
a crisis was at hand. 

Rastignac was in fact in a difficult though perhaps 
not uncommon position. Whether Madame de Nucin- 
gen loved him or was trifling with him, she had made 
him pass through the fluctuations of a real passion, 
and had used against him all the resources at the 
command of Parisian feminine diplomacy. Having 
compromised herself in the eyes of the world to se- 
cure the devotion of a cousin of Madame de Beause- 
ant, she now repelled his advances and would go no 
further. For a month she had coquetted with his 

Pere Goriot. 195 

feelings, and had ended by gaining some power over 
his heart. If in the first hours of their intimacy the 
student had been master of the situation, Madame de 
Nucingen was now the stronger of the two. She had 
contrived by skilful management to excite in Rastignac 
the varied feelings, good and bad, of the two or three 
men who exist in a young Parisian. Was this from 
calculation ? No, women are always true even in the 
midst of their utmost falsity ; they are true, because 
they are influenced by native feeling. Perhaps Del- 
phine, alarmed at the power she had at first allowed 
Eugene to assume over her, and at the unguarded con- 
fidence she had shown him, was prompted by a feeling 
of dignity to assume reserve. She may have hesitated 
before her fall, and have sought to test the character 
of the man to whom she was about to commit her 
future, having already had good reason to distrust the 
faith of lovers. Perhaps she had noticed in Eugene's 
manner for his rapid success had greatly increased 
his self-conceit a certain disrespect caused by the 
singularities of their situation. Be this as it may, 
whatever were her reasons, Eugene had made no pro- 
gress with her since the first days of their intercourse. 
He grew irritable, his self-love was deeply wounded ; 
he was like a sportsman jealous for the honor of Saint- 
Hubert if a partridge is not killed on the first day of 
the sport. His angry self-conceit, his futile hopes, 
were they false or real, and his daily anxieties bound 
him more and more to this woman. Yet sometimes 
when he found himself penniless and without prospects, 
his mind turned, in defiance of his conscience, to the 
chance Vautrin had held out to him through a marriage 

196 Pere Groriot. 

with Mademoiselle Taillefer. There were days when 
his poverty was so importunate that he yielded almost 
involuntarily to the snare of the terrible sphinx whose 
glance dominated him with a dangerous fascination. 

"When Poiret and Mademoiselle Michonneau had 
gone up to their rooms, Rastignac, believing himself 
alone between Madame Vauquer and Madame Couture, 
the latter of whom was knitting herself a pair of muf- 
fetees and dosing by the stove, turned to Mademoiselle 
Taillefer with a glance sufficiently tender to make her 
eyes droop. 

" Is anything troubling you, Monsieur Eugene ? " she 
said, after a slight pause. 

" Who is without trouble ? " he replied. " Yet per- 
haps if we young men were sure of being truly loved, 
with a devotion that would compensate us for the 
sacrifices we are ready to make, we should have no 

Mademoiselle Taillefer for all answer gave him a 
look whose meaning was unmistakable. 

" Even you, Mademoiselle, who are so sure of your 
heart to-day, can you be sure that you will never 
change ? " 

A smile played about the lips of the poor girl ; a ray 
of sunshine from her heart lighted up her face with so 
bright a glow that Eugene was frightened at having 
called forth such a manifestation of feeling. 

u What ! if to-morrow you were rich and happy, if 
immense wealth came to you from the skies, would 
you still love a poor young man who had pleased you 
in the days of your own distress?" 

She made a pretty motion of her head. 

Pere Goriot. 197 

" A very poor unhappy man ? " 

Another sign. 

" What nonsense are you talking ? " cried Madame 

" Never mind," said Eugene ; " we understand each 

" Ah ! an understanding ! a promise of marringe 
between the Chevalier Eugene de Rastignac and Made- 
moiselle Victorine Taillefer ! " said Vautrin in his bluff 
voice, as he stood on the threshold of the dining-room. 

" How you frightened me ! " cried Madame Vauquer 
and Madame Couture together. 

"I might make a far worse choice," said Eugene, 

The voice of Vautrin at that moment caused him 
the most painful emotion he had ever yet known. 

" No jests on that subject, if you please, gentlemen," 
said Madame Couture. " My dear, let us go upstairs." 

Madame Vauquer followed the two ladies, that she 
might economize fire and lights by spending the even- 
ing in their room. Eugene found himself alone and 
face to face with Vautrin. 

" I knew you would come to it," said the latter, with 
his imperturbable sang-froid. u But, stay ! I can be 
delicate and considerate as well as others. Don't make 
up your mind at this moment ; you are not altogether 
yourself ; you are in trouble, in debt. I don't wish 
it to be passion or despair but plain common-sense 
which brings you to me. Perhaps you want a few 
thousands ? Here, will you have them ? " 

The tempter took a purse from his pocket and drew 
out three bank-notes of a thousand francs each, which 

198 Pere Goriot. 

he fluttered before the eyes of the student. Eugene's 
situation at this time was very harassing. He owed 
the Marquis d'Adjuda and the Comte de Trailles a 
hundred louis lost at cards. He had no money to pay 
the debt, and dared not go that evening to Madame de 
Restaud's where he was expected. It was one of those 
informal parties where people drink tea and eat little 
cakes, but lose their thousands at whist. 

" Monsieur," said Eugene, striving to hide a convul- 
sive shiver, " after what you have confided to me, you 
ought to know that I cannot put myself under obliga- 
tions to you." 

" Well," said Vautrin, " I should be sorry to have 
you say otherwise. You are a handsome young fellow, 
and sensitive ; proud as a lion and gentle as a little 
girl. You would be a fine morsel for the Devil : I like 
the strain. A little more study of men and morals, 
and you will see the world in its true light. A man 
of your stamp generally relieves his conscience by 
playing a few scenes of virtuous indignation and self- 
sacrifice, highly applauded by the fools in the pit. 
In a few days you will be one of us. Ah ! if you be- 
come my pupil, I will make you anything you please. 
You could not form a wish but it should be gratified, 
were it for honor, fortune, or the love of women. 
All civilization should be turned into ambrosia for 
you. You should be our spoiled child, our Benjamin ; 
we would lay down our lives for you with pleasure. 
Every obstacle in your path should be swept away ! 
If you are still scrupulous, I suppose you take me for 
a scoundrel ? Let me tell you that a man who was 
quite as high-minded as you can pretend to be, Mon- 

Pere Q-oriot. 199 

sieur de Turenne, had his little arrangements with 
the brigands of his day without thinking himself at 
all compromised by it. You don't want to be under 
obligations to me, hein ? That need not hinder," he 
said with a smile ; " take the notes, and write across 
this," he added, pulling out a stamped paper, " Ac- 
cepted for the sum of three thousand. Jive hundred 
francs, payable in twelvemonths ; sign it, and add the 
date. The five hundred francs interest is enough to 
relieve you of all scruples. You may call me a Jew if 
you like, and consider yourself entirely released from 
gratitude. I have no objection to your despising me 
now, for I am certain you will come to me in the end. 
You will find in me the unfathomable depths and the 
vast concentrated emotions which ninnies call vices; 
but you will never find me false or ungrateful. I 'm 
not a pawn, nor a knight I 'm a castle, a tower 
of strength, my boy ! " 

" Who are you ? " cried Eugene. tf Were you created 
to torment me ? " 

" No, no; I am a kind man, willing to get splashed 
that you may be kept out of the mud for the rest of 
your life. I have startled you a little with the chimes 
of your Social Order, and by letting you see, perhaps 
too soon, how the peal is rung. But the first fright 
will pass, like that of a recruit on the battlefield. You 
will get accustomed to the idea of men as well as of 
soldiers dying to promote the good of others who have 
crowned themselves kings and emperors. How times 
have changed ! Formerly we could say to a bravo, 
' Here are a hundred crowns ; go kill me So-and-so,' 
and eat our suppers tranquilly after sending a man 

200 Pere Goriot. 

to the shades by a yes or a no. To-day I propose to 
give you a handsome fortune ; and yet you hesitate, 
when all you have to do is to nod your head, a thing 
which cannot compromise you in any way. The age 
is rotten!" 

Eugene signed the paper, and exchanged it for the 

" Come, let us talk sense," resumed Vautrin. " I 
want to start for America in a few months and plant 
my tobacco. I will send you the cigars of friendship. 
If I get rich I will help you. If I have no children 
(and that is probable, for I am not anxious to propa- 
gate myself), I will leave you all my fortune. Don't 
you call that being a friend? But I have a passion 
for devoting myself to others I have sacrificed 
myself before now in my life. I live in a sphere 
above that of other men ; I look on actions as means 
to ends, and I make straight for those ends. What is 
the life of a man to me ? not that ! " he added, click- 
ing his thumb-nail against a tooth. " A man is all, 
or nothing. Less than nothing when he is Poiret : 
one may crush such a man as that like a bed-bug, 
he is flat and empty, and he stinks. But a man gifted 
as you are is a god ; he is not a machine in human 
skin, but a theatre where noble sentiments are en- 
acted. I live in sentiments ! A noble sentiment, 
what is it? the whole of life in a thought. Look 
at Pere Goriot: his two daughters are his universe, 
they are the threads of fate that guide him through 
created things. I say again, I have dug deep into life, 
and I know there is but one enduring sentiment, 
man's friendship for man. Pierre et Jaffier I know 

Pere Croriot. 201 

* Venice Preserved ' by heart ! Have you seen many 
men virile enough when a comrade said, ' Come, help 
me bury a corpse ,' to follow without asking a question 
or preaching a moral ? I have done that ! But you, 
you are superior to others ; to you I can speak out, 
you will comprehend me. You '11 not paddle long in 
the marsh with the dwarfs and the toads! Well, 
it is settled : you will marry her. Let us each carry 
our point. Mine is steel, and will never yield ! Hal 
ha! " 

Vautrin walked away without listening to the nega- 
tive reply of Rastignac. He seemed to know the 
secret of those feeble efforts at resistance, those in- 
effectual struggles with which men try to cheat them- 
selves, and which serve to excuse their evil actions to 
their own minds. 

" Let him do what he likes ; I will never marry 
Mademoiselle Taillefer," said Eugene. 

The thought of a compact between himself and a 
man he held in abhorrence, yet who was fast assuming 
great proportions in his eyes by the cynicism of his 
ideas and the boldness with which he clinched society, 
threw Rastignac into an inward fever, from which, 
however, he rallied in time to dress and go to Madame 
de Restaud's. For some time past the countess had 
shown him much attention, as a young man whose 
every step led him more and more into the heart of 
the great world, and whose influence might eventually 
become formidable. He paid his debts to Messieurs 
d'Adjuda and de Trailles, played whist far into the 
night, and regained all he had lost. Being supersti- 
tious, as most men are whose future lies before them to 

202 Pere Goriot. 

make or mar, and who are all more or less fatalists, he 
chose to see the favor of Heaven in his run of luck, a 
recompense granted for his persistence in the path of 
duty. The next morning he hastened to ask Vautrin 
for the note of hand, and repaid the three thousand 
francs with very natural satisfaction. 

" All goes well," said Vautrin. 

" But I am not your accomplice," said Eugene. 

"I know, I know," replied the other, interrupting 
him; "you are still hampered with some childish non- 
sense. Once across the threshold, and you'll be all 

Two days later Poiret and Mademoiselle Michonneau 
were sitting on a bench in the sun, in a quiet alley of 
the Jardin des Plantes, talking with the gentleman who 
had rightly enough been an object of suspicion to 

" Mademoiselle," said Monsieur Gondureau, " I can- 
not see why you should have any scruples. His Excel- 
lency Monseigneur the Minister of Police of this king- 

"Ah! His Excellency Monseigneur the Minister of 
Police of this kingdom," repeated Poiret. 

"Yes; His Excellency is personally interested in 
this affair," said Gondureau. 

It seems at first sight improbable that Poiret, an old 
government employe, who had presumably the virtues 
of the bourgeois class though destitute of brains, should 
have continued to listen to this man after he had plainly 
acknowledged himself to be a police spy, an agent of the 
Rue de Jerusalem disguised as an honest citizen. Yet 

Pere G-oriot. 203 

the thing was really natural enough. The reader will 
better understand the place that Poiret held in the 
great family of fools after hearing some remarks made 
not long since by certain keen observers of society, but 
which have never yet appeared in print. There is a 
nation of quill-drivers placed in the budget between 
the Arctic zone of official life inhabited by clerks who 
receive twelve hundred francs annually, the Green- 
land of our public offices, and the temperate regions 
where salaries rise from three to six thousand francs, 
nay, even blossom in spite of the difficulties of cultiva- 
tion. One of the characteristic traits of the tribe in- 
habiting the middle region a narrow, down-trodden 
class is its involuntary, mechanical, instinctive respect 
for that Grand Llama of office, known personally to the 
petty employe only by an illegible signature, and spoken 
of with reverence as His Excellency Monseigneur the 
Minister; five words equivalent to "// JBondo Cani" 
of the Caliph of Bagdad, words which to this hum- 
ble class represent a power sacred and beyond appeal. 
"What the Pope is among Christians, Monseigneur is to 
the employe. Regarded as infallible in his adminis- 
trative capacity, *h light that emanates from this 
luminary is reflected in his acts and words, and in all 
that he does by proxy. It covers with a mantle and 
legalizes every act that he may ordain. His very title 
of Excellency seems to attest the purity of his motives 
and the sanctity of his intentions, and is a cloak to 
ideas that would not otherwise be tolerated. Things 
that these poor officials would never do to serve them- 
selves, they do willingly in the great name of His Ex- 
cellency. Public offices have their duty of passive 

204 Pere Groriot. 

obedience as well as the army ; they are controlled by 
a system which stifles conscience, annihilates manliness, 
and ends by making the human being a mere screw, 
or nut, in the government machinery. Thus Monsieur 
Gondureau, who appeared to have a knowledge of 
men, soon discovered in Poiret the bureaucratic ninny, 
and trotted out his Deus ex machind, the talismariic 
words u His Excellency," at the moment when, un- 
masking his batteries, it was desirable to dazzle the old 
fellow, whom he regarded as a male Michonneau, 
just as the Michonneau appeared to him a female 

" Since His Excellency himself, His Excellency Mon- 
seigneur ah ! that alters the case," said Poiret. 

"You hear what Monsieur says, a gentleman in 
whose judgment you appear to place confidence," said 
the pretended bourgeois, addressing Mademoiselle Mi- 
chonneau. " Well, His Excellency has now obtained 
the most complete certainty that a man calling himself 
Vautrin, who lives in the Maison Vauquer, is an escaped 
format [convict] from the Torlon galleys, where he was 
known by the name of Trompe-la-Mort " 

"Ah! Trompe-la-Mort, one who cheats Death!" 
interrupted Poiret. " He is lucky if he has earned his 

"Yes," said the agent, " the nickname is due to the 
luck he has had in never losing his life in any of the ex- 
tremely audacious enterprises he has engaged in. The 
man is dangerous ; he has qualities that make him very 
remarkable. His condemnation itself was a thing that 
did him infinite honor among his comrades." 

' Is he a man of honor ? " asked Poiret. 

Pere Croriot. 205 

" After his own fashion, yes. He consented to 
plead guilty to the crime of another, a forgeiy, com- 
mitted by a handsome young man to whom he was 
much attached ; an Italian and a gambler, who after- 
wards went into the army, where he has conducted 
himself with perfect propriety ever since." 

" But if His Excellency the Minister of Police is 
certain that Monsieur Vautrin is Trompe-la-Mort, 
what does he want of me?" asked Mademoiselle 

" Ah ! yes," echoed Poiret ; " if the Minister really, 
as you do us the honor to say, has the certainty " 

" Certainty is not the word. The fact is strongly 
suspected. Allow me to explain. Jacques Collin, 
alias Trompe-la-Mort, has the entire confidence of the 
prisoners of the three Bagnes [galleys]. They have 
appointed him their agent and banker. He makes 
money by taking care of their affairs, an office which 
necessarily requires a man of mark." 

"Ha! ha! do you see the pun, Mademoiselle?" 
cried Poiret. u Monsieur calls him a ' man of mark ' 
because he has been branded ! " 

" This Vautrin," continued the agent, " receives the 
money of the convicts at the galleys, invests it, takes 
care of it, and holds it until claimed by those who es- 
cape, or by their families if disposed of by will, or by 
their mistresses when drawn upon for their benefit." 

" Their mistresses ! you mean their wives ? " said 

"No, Monsieur, the convict seldom has any but an 
illegitimate wife. We call them concubines." 

" What ! do they live in concubinage ? " 

206 PeVe Goriot. 

" That follows of course." 

" Well," said Poiret, " these are horrors that Mon- 
signeur if he hears of them will never tolerate. Since 
you have the honor of communicating with His Excel- 
lency, you, who seem to me to have philanthropic views, 
should enlighten him on the bad example set to society 
by the immoral conduct of these men." 

"But, Monsieur, Government does not send them to 
the galleys to offer a model of all the virtues." 

" True enough ; but still, Monsieur, allow " 

" Let Monsieur go on with what he was saying, my 
dear," said Mademoiselle Michonneau. 

" You can understand, Mademoiselle," resumed Gon- 
dureau, " that Government might be very glad to put 
its hand on this illicit capital, which is said to amount 
to a very large sum. Trompe-la-Mort has a great 
deal of property in his possession from the moneys 
turned over to him by the convicts; and also from 
what is placed in his hands by the Society of the Ten 
Thousand " 

"Ten thousand thieves! " ejaculated Poiret, aghast. 

"No. The Society of the Ten Thousand is an asso- 
ciation of robbers of the first class ; men who work on 
a large scale, and engage in no enterprise unless sure 
of making at least ten thousand francs by it. This 
Society is made up of the most distinguished men 
among those who go through the criminal courts. They 
know the law, and never risk their lives by doing any- 
thing that could condemn them to the guillotine. 
Collin is their trusted agent, their counsellor. By the 
aid of his immense resources he has managed to get 
up a force of private detectives, and has connections 

Pere Q-oriot. 207 

widely extended which he wraps in a mystery really 
impenetrable. For a year we have surrounded him 
with spies, but we have not yet been able to fathom 
his game. His money and his ability are meantime 
promoting vice, making a capital for crime, and sup- 
porting a perfect army of bad men who are perpetually 
making war upon society. To arrest Trompe-la-Mort 
and seize his funds would pull the evil up by the roots. 
The matter has thus become an affair of State and 
of public policy, capable of doing honor to all who 
engage in it. You, Monsieur, might perhaps be re- 
employed by the Government, as secretary, possibly, 
of a police commissioner, which would not hinder you 
from drawing your pension as a retired functionary." 

" But," said Mademoiselle Michonneau, " why does 
not Trompe-la-Mort run off with the money?" 

" Oh ! " said Gondureau, " wherever he went he 
would be" followed by a man with orders to kill him if 
he stole from the Bagne. Money cannot be carried off 
as quietly as a man can run away with a pretty girl. 
Moreover, Collin is a fellow incapable of such an act. 
He would feel himself dishonored." 

" Monsieur," said Poiret, " you are right ; he would 
be altogether dishonored." 

" All this does not explain why you do not simply 
arrest him at once," said Mademoiselle Michonneau. 

"Well, Mademoiselle, I will tell you. But," he 
whispered in her ear, " keep your gentleman from 
interrupting me, or we shall never have done. He 
ought to be very rich to get any one to sit and listen 
to him. Trompe-la-Mort when lie came here put on 
the skin of an honest man. He gave himself out as a 

208 PeVe Goriot. 

plain citizen, and took lodgings in a commonplace pen- 
sion. Oh ! he is very cunning, I can tell you. He is 
not a fish to be caught without a worm ! So Monsieur 
Vautrin is a man of consideration, who carries on im- 
portant business of some kind." 

" Naturally," said Poiret to himself. 

" The minister, if any mistake should be made, and 
if we were to arrest a real Vautrin, would bring down 
upon himself all the tradespeople of Paris, and have to 
face public opinion. Monsieur the prefect of police 
is not very sure of his place ; he has enemies ; and if 
we were to make a mistake, those who want to step 
into his shoes would profit by the yelpings and out- 
cries of the liberals to get rid of him. We must act 
now as we did in that affair of Coignard, the false 
Comte de Sainte-Helene ; if he had been the real count 
we should have been in the wrong box. So we are 
careful to verify," 

" Yes, but for that you want a pretty woman," said 
Mademoiselle Michonneau quickly. 

" Trompe-la-Mort will never put himself in the power 
of any woman," said the detective. " He will have 
nothing to do with them." 

" Then I don't see how I could help you to the veri- 
fication, even supposing I were willing to undertake it 
for two thousand francs." 

"Nothing easier. I will give you a phial containing 
one dose of liquid which will produce a rush of blood 
to the head, not in the least dangerous, but with all 
the symptoms of apoplexy. The drug may be put 
either into his wine or his coffee. As soon as it has 
had its effect, carry your man to his bed, undress him, 

Pere Goriot. 209 

to see if he is dying, or any other pretext, con- 
trive to be alone with him, and give him a smart slap 
on the shoulder, paf ! and you will see the letters re- 

"That's not much to do," said Poiret. 

" Well, do you agree ? " said Gondureau to the old 

"But, my dear Monsieur," said Mademoiselle Mi- 
chonneau, " suppose there are no lettei-s. Shall I have 
the two thousand francs ? " 


" What will you pay me in that case?" 

" Five hundred francs." 

" It is very little for doing such a thing as that. 
Either way it is equally hard upon my conscience. I 
have my conscience to quiet, Monsieur." 

" I assure you," said Poiret, " that Mademoiselle 
has a great deal of conscience; and, besides, she is a 
most amiable person and well informed." 

" Well," said Mademoiselle Michonneau, " give me 
three thousand francs if it is Trompe-la-Mort, and 
nothing at all if he proves to be an honest man." 

" Done ! " said Gondureau, " but on condition that 
you do it to-morrow." 

" Not so fast, my dear Monsieur. I must consult 
my confessor." 

" You are a sly one ! " said the detective rising. 
" Well, I '11 see you to-morrow then ; and if you want 
me before then, come to the Petite Rue Sainte-Anne, 
at the farther end of the Court of the Sainte-Chapelle. 
There is only one door under the arch. Ask for 
Monsieur Gondureau." 


210 Pre Goriot. 

Bianchon, who was coming from the Coursde Cuvier, 
caught the singular name of Trompe-la-Mort, and heard 
the " Done ! " of the celebrated chief of the detective 

" Why did not you settle it at once ? " said Poiret 
to Mademoiselle Michonneau. " It would give you 
three hundred francs annuity." 

" Why ?" said she. " Well, because I want to think 
it over. If Monsieur Vautrin is really Trompe-la-Mort 
perhaps it would be better to make a bargain with him. 
Still, if I broached the subject I should give him warn- 
ing, and he is just the man to decamp gratis. It would 
be an abominable cheat." 

" Even if he did get away," said Poiret, " Monsieur 
told us he was watched by the police. But you, you 
will lose everything." 

"There is this to be said," thought Mademoiselle 
Michonneau, "I don't like him. He is always saying 
disagreeable things to me." 

" Besides," said Poiret, returning to the charge, 
" you will be acting for the Government. According 
to what that gentleman told us (he seemed to me a 
very nice man, and very well dressed too), it is an act 
of obedience to the laws ; it rids the world of a crimi- 
nal, however virtuous he may be. He who has drunk 
will drink. Suppose he took a fancy to murder us in 
our beds devil take me ! we should be guilty of his 
homicides ; and be ourselves the first victims." 

The preoccupation of Mademoiselle Michonneau 
prevented her from giving ear to these sentences, 
which dropped one by one from the lips of Poiret 
like water trickling through a spigot carelessly closed. 

Pere G-oriot. 211 

When once the old rann was set going, and Mademoi- 
selle Michonneau did not stop him, he ticked on like 
a mechanism wound up to go till it runs down. Hav- 
ing broached a subject, he was usually led by his par- 
entheses through a variety of irrelevant topics without 
ever coming to a conclusion. By the time they reached 
the Maison Vauquer he had maundered through a 
quantity of examples and quotations which led him 
finally to relate his own deposition in the affair of the 
Sieur Ragoulleau and the Dame Morin, in which he had 
figured as a witness for the defence. On entering the 
house his companion observed that Eugene de Ras- 
tignac was engaged in close conversation with Ma- 
demoiselle Taillefer, and that their interest in each 
other was so absorbing that they paid no heed to the 
pair who passed them in crossing the dining-room. 

" I knew it would come to that," said Mademoiselle 
Michonneau to Poiret, " they have been making eyes 
at each other for the last week." 

" Yes," he replied, " but after all, she was pronounced 

" Who ? " 

"Madame Morin." 

"I was talking of Mademoiselle Victorine," said 
Michonneau, following Poiret into his chamber without 
noticing where she was going, " and you answer me 
by Madame Morin. Who is that woman ? " 

" What has Mademoiselle Victorine been guilty of? " 
asked Poiret. 

" She is guilty of being in love with Monsieur 
Eugene de Rastignac, and running headlong without 
knowing what she is coming to, poor innocent ! " 

212 Pere Q-oriot. 


EUGENE had that morning been driven to despair by 
Madame de Nucingen. In his inmost soul he now 
yielded himself up to Vautrin, not choosing to fathom 
either the motives of that strange man in befriending 
him, or the future of the alliance that would be riveted 
between them. Nothing but a miracle could save him 
now from the abyss, on the verge of which he stood as 
he exchanged with Mademoiselle Taillefer the sweetest 
of all promises. Victorine listened as to the voice of 
angels ; the heavens opened for her, the Maison Vau- 
qtier shone with tints that artists lavish upon palaces ; 
she loved, and she was loved, alas, she thought she 
was! And what young girl would not have thought 
so, as she looked at Rastignac and listened to him for 
that one sweet hour stolen from the argus eyes that 
watched her ! While he fought his conscience, know- 
ing that he was doing evil and choosing to do evil, 
saying to himself that he would atone for this sin 
by giving lifelong happiness to his wife, the fires of 
the hell within him burned from the inner to the 
outer, and' the anguish of his soul heightened the 
beauty of his face. Mercifully for him the miracle 
took place. 

Vautrin entered gaily, reading at a glance the souls 
of the young pair whom he had married by the machi- 

Pere Goriot. 213 

nations of his infernal genius, and whose joy he killed 
as he trolled forth in his strong mocking voice, 

" My Fanny is charming 
In her simplicity." 

Victorine fled away, carrying with her more of joy 
than she had yet known of sorrow. Poor child , a pres- 
sure of the hands, the sweep of her lovers' curls upon 
her cheek, a word whispered in her ear so close that she 
felt the warm touch of his lips, an arm folded trembling 
about her, a kiss taken from her white throat, these 
were the troth-plights of her passion, which the near 
presence of Sylvie, threatening to enter that radiant 
dining-room, only rendered more ardent, more real, 
more tender than the noblest pledges of devotion re- 
lated in the love-tales of the knights of old. These 
menus suffrages, to borrow the pretty expression 
of our ancestors seemed almost crimes to the pure 
heart that confessed itself weekly. In this shoi't hour 
she had lavished treasures of her soul more precious 
far than hereafter, rich and happy, she could bestow 
with, the gift of her whole being. 

" The affair is arranged," said Vautrin to Eugene. 
" All passed very properly. Difference of opinion. 
Our pigeon insulted my falcon. It is for to-morrow, 
in the redoubt at Clignancourt. By half-past eight 
o'clock Mademoiselle Taillefer will be heiress of all 
the love and all the money of her father, while she 
is quietly dipping her bits of toast into her coffee! 
Droll, isn't it? It seems young Taillefer is a good 
swordsman, and he feels as sure of having the best of 
it as if he held all the trumps in his hand. But he '11 

214 Pere Goriot. 

be bled by a trick of mine; a pass I invented, rais- 
ing the sword and giving a quick thrust through the 
forehead. I'll show it to you some day, for it is 
immensely useful." 

Rastignac looked at him and listened in a stupid 
manner, but said nothing. At this moment Pere 
Goriot came in with Bianchon and some of the other 

" You are taking it just as I hoped," said Vautrin. 
" You know what you are about. All right, my young 
eaglet, you will govern men. You are strong, firm, 
virile. I respect you." 

He offered his hand, but Rastignac drew back 
quickly and dropped into a chair, turning very pale ; a 
sea of blood rolled at his feet. 

" Well, well ! we still have a rag of our swaddling- 
clothes spotted with virtue," said Vautrin in a whis- 
per. "The papa has three millions. I know his 
fortune. The dot will make you white as the bridal 
gown, in your own eyes, too ; never fear." 

Rastignac hesitated no longer. He determined to 
go that evening and warn the Taillefers, father and 
son. At this moment, Vautrin having left him, Pere 
Goriot said in his ear, 

" You seem out of spirits, my dear boy ; but I can 
make you merry. Come ! " 

The old man lit his rush-light at one of the lamps, 
and went upstairs. Eugene followed him in silence. 

" Let us go to your room," he said. " You thought 
this morning that she did not care for you, heinf She 
sent you away peremptorily ; and you went off angry. 
Oh, you simpleton ! She was expecting me. We 

P$re G-oriot. 215 

were going together, yes, together, to arrange a 
little jewel of an appartement where you are to live 
three days from now. Don't tell her that I told you. 
It was to be a surprise ; but I can 't keep the secret 
any longer. It is in the Rue d'Artois, two steps 
from the Rue Saint-Lazare. You will be lodged like 
a prince. We have been getting furniture fit for a 
bride. We have been very busy together for the last 
month, but" I would not tell you anything about it. 
My lawyer has taken the field. Delphine will have 
her thirty thousand francs a year, the interest of her 
dot; and I shall insist on her eight hundred thousand 
francs being invested in good securities, securities 
in open day-light, you know." 

Eugene was silent. lie walked up and down the 
miserable, untidy room with folded arms. Pere Goriot 
seized a moment when his back was turned to put upon 
the chimney-piece a red morocco case, on which the 
arms of Rastignac were stamped in gojd. 

"My dear boy!" said the poor old man, "I have 
gone into this thing up to my chin. To tell you the 
truth, there is some selfishness in it. I have my own 
interests to serve in your change of quarters. I have 
something to ask of you." 

"What is it?" 

" There is a little room attached to the appartement 
that will just suit me. I shall live there, shall I not? 
I am getting old I live so far from my daughters. 
I shall not be in your way ; but you will come and tell 
me about them constantly, every evening? That 
will not trouble you, will it ? When you come in, and 
I am in my bed, I shall hear you, and say to myself, 

216 Pere Goriot. 

' He has seen my little Delphine ; he has taken her to 
a ball ; she is happy with him.' If I were ill, it would 
be balm to my heart to hear you go out and come in. 
It would bring me nearer to my daughters : you belong 
to their world, but you are my friend. It will be but 
a step to the Champs Elysees, where they drive every 
afternoon ; I could see them daily, whereas now I 
often get there too late. Sometimes my little Del- 
phine would come there, and then I should see her, 
in her pretty wadded pelisse, trotting about as daintily 
as a little cat. She has been so bright and merry for 
a month past, just what she was as a girl at home, 
with me. She said to me just now as we walked 
together, * Papa, I am so happy ! ' When they say 
ceremoniously, ' My father,' they freeze me ; but when 
they call me 'Papa,' I seem to see my little ones again ; 
the past comes back to me ; they are mine once 

The old man wiped the tears from his eyes. " I had 
not heard her say 'Papa' for so long! She had not 
taken my arm for years': yes ! it is ten years since I 
have walked beside either of my daughters. Oh ! it 
was good to hear the flutter of her dress, to keep step 
with her, to feel her so warm and soft beside me ! 
This morning I went everywhere with Delphine ; she 
took me into the shops ; I escorted her home. Ah ! 
you and I will live together. If you have any want 
I shall know it, I shall be at hand. If that rough 
log of an Alsatian would only die ! if his gout would fly 
to his stomach ! then you could make my poor girl a 
happy woman. She may have done wrong, but she 
has been so wretched in her marriage that I excuse 

Pere Goriot. 217 

all. Surely the Father in Heaven is not less kind than 
an earthly father ! She was praising you to me," he 
went on after a pause. " She talked of you as we 
walked : ' Is he not handsome, Papa ? Is he not kind 
and good ? Does he ever speak of me ? ' From the 
Rue d'Artois to the Passage des Panoramas she talked 
of you. All this happy morning I was no longer old, 

I was light as a feather. I told her how you gave 
me the thousand-franc note. Oh ! the darling ! she 
shed tears Why! what is that you have on your 
chimney-piece ? " he said, impatient at Rastignac's 

Eugene, stunned and silent, looked at his neighbor 
with a bewildered air. The duel, with all its conse- 
quences, announced by Vautrin for the morrow, pre- 
sented such a frightful contrast to this fulfilment of 
his pleasant dreams that his mind struggled as it were 
with a nightmare. He turned to the fireplace and 
saw the little case, opened it, and found inside a scrap 
of paper, beneath which lay a Breguet watch. On the 
paper were written these words: 

" I wish you to think of me every hour, because 


The last word no doubt alluded to something that 
had passed between them. Eugene was much affected. 
His arms were inlaid in gold inside the case. This bijou, 

a pretty thing he had long coveted, the chain, 
the key, the case, the chasing, were all exactly what 
he liked. Pore Goriot was delighted. He had doubt- 
less promised to carry to his daughter an account of 
how Eugene received her unexpected gift ; for he was 

218 Pere Goriot. 

a third in their youthful pleasures, and not the least 
happy of the three. 

"You will go and see her this evening?" he said. 
" She expects you. That log of an Alsatian sups with 
his danseuse. You will take me with you, will you 

" Yes, my good Pere Goriot. You know that I love 
you " 

" Ah ! you are not ashamed of me, not you ! Let 
me kiss you ; " and he strained the student in his arms. 
" To-night ! we will go and see her to-night." 

" Yes ; but first I must go out on business which it 
is impossible to postpone." 

Can I help you ? " 

" Why, yes, you can. While I go to Madame de 
Nucingen's, you might go to the house of Monsieur 
Taillefer, the father, and beg him to give me an hour 
this evening, to speak to him on a subject of the 
utmost importance." 

" Can it be possible, young man," cried Pere Goriot, 
whose whole aspect changed, " can it be true that 
you are paying court to his daughter, as those fools say 
downstairs? Heavens and earth! You don't know 
what it is to get a tap from Goriot. If you are playing 
false, one blow of my fist But it is not possible ! " 

" I swear to you, I love but one woman in the 
world," cried the student ; " and I did not know it till 
'a moment ago. But young Taillefer is to fight a duel, 
and he is certain to be killed." 

" What is that to you ? " asked Goriot. 

" I must tell the father to save his son ! " cried 

Pere Goriot. 219 

His words were interrupted by the voice of Vnutrin 
standing on the threshold of his chamber, singing, 

" ' O Kichard, 6 mon roi ! 
L'univers t' abandonne ' 

" Broum ! broum ! broum ! broum ! broum ! 

" ' Long have I wandered here and there, 
And wherever by chance 
Tra, la, la, la, la '" 

" Gentlemen," said Christophe, " the soup is waiting ; 
everybody is at table." 

" Here, Christophe," said Vautrin. " Come in and 
get a bottle of my claret." 

"Is the watch pretty?" whispered Pore Goriot. 
"Is it in good taste, hein?" 

Vautrin, Pere Goriot, and Rastignac went down to 
dinner, and by reason of their being late were placed to- 
gether at the table. Eugene showed marked coldness 
to Vautrin, though the man had nevjer displayed greater 
gifts of intellect; he sparkled with, wit, and even roused 
something of it in the other guests. His sang froid 
and assurance struck Eugene with consternation. 

" What herb have you trodden on to-day ? " said Ma- 
dame Vauquer to Vautrin ; " you are as gay as a lark." 

"I am always gay when I have done a good stroke 
of business." 

" Business ! " said Eugene. 

" Well, yes. I have delivered over some goods to- 
day which will bring me in a handsome commission. 
Mademoiselle Michonneau," he continued, perceiving 
that the old maid was looking at him attentively, " is 
there anything in my face which is not agreeable to 

220 Pere Goriot. 

you, that you stai-e at me like an American ? If so, 
pray mention it, and it shall be changed to please you. 
Ha ! Poiret, we won't quarrel about that, will we ? " 
he added, winking at the employe". 

" Sac-a-papier ! You ought to sit for the Joking 
Hercules," said the young painter to Vautrin. 

" Faith ! I 'm willing, if Mile. Michonneau will pose 
as the Venus of Pere-la-Chaise," replied Vautrin. 

"And Poiret?" said Bianchon. 

"Oh, Poiret shall sit as Poiret, god of gardens !" 
cried Vautrin. " He derives from/xnVe [pear]." 

" All that is nonsense," said Madame Vauquer. 
" You had better give us some of your claret, Monsieur 
Vautrin ; I see the neck of a bottle. It will keep up 
our spirits, and it is good for the stomach." 

" Gentlemen," said Vautrin, " Madame la presidente 
calls us to order. Madame Couture and Mademoiselle 
Victorine have not yet declared themselves shocked 
by your jocular discourse, but please respect the inno- 
cence of Pere Goriot. I propose to offer you a little 
bottleorama of claret, which the name of Lafitte ren- 
ders doubly illustrious : this remark, you will under- 
stand, bears no allusion to politics. Come on, China- 
man ! " he added, looking at Christophe, who did not 
stir. " Here, Christophe ! don't you know your name ? 
Chinese ! bring forth the liquid ! " 

" Here it is, Monsieur," said Christophe, giving him 
the bottle. 

After filling Eugene's glass and that of Pere Goriot, 
he poured out a few drops for himself and tasted them 
slowly, while the other two drank theirs off. Suddenly 
he made a grimace. 

Pere G-oriot. 221 

" The devil ! " he cried ; " this wine is corked. 
Here, Christophe, you may have the rest of it; and 
go and get some more. You know where it is, right 
hand side. Stay ! we are sixteen ; bring down eight 
bottles." " 

" Regardless of cost," said the painter. " I '11 pay 
for a hundred chestnuts." 

Ah! ah!" 

Bra-vo! Oh!" 

"Hur-rah! rah!" 

Every one uttered an exclamation, popping, as usual, 
like fireworks. 

" Come, Madame Vauquer, give us two bottles of 
champagne," cried Vautrin. 

" Listen to that ! You might as well ask for the 
house itself ! Two bottles of champagne ! Why, 
they cost twelve francs ! I don't make that in a 
week. But if Monsieur Eugene will pay for the cham- 
pagne, I '11 give some currant wine." 

Pah ! That stuff of hers is as bad as a black dose," 
said the medical student in a whisper. 

" Will you hold your tongue, Bianchon ! " said Ras- 
tignac ; " the very name of a black dose makes me sick 
at Yes, bring on your champagne ! I '11 pay for 
it," he added. 

" Sylvie," said Madame Vauquer, " give us the bis- 
cuits and some little cakes." 

" Your little cakes are too old," said Vautrin ; " they 
have grown a beard. As for the biscuits, produce 
them ! " 

In a few moments the claret circulated, the company 
grew lively, the gayety redoubled. Above the din of 

222 Pere Goriot. 

laughter rose a variety of cat-calls and imitations of 
the noises of animals. The employe of the museum 
reproduced a street-cry popularly supposed at that 
time to resemble the amorous miaulings of the roof- 
cats ; whereupon eight voices joined chorus in well- 
known Paris cries : 

" Knives to grind grind !" 

" Chick weed for your little birds ! n 

" Plaisir! ladies Plaisir! taste my sweet Plaisir!" 

" China ! China to mend ! " 

" To the barge ! To the barge ! " 

u Beat your wives your coats ! Beat your coats ! " 

" Old clo'es, gold lace, old hats to sell ! " 

" Cherries ! cherries ! ripe cherries ! " 

But the palm fell to Bianchon, as he miauled through 
his nose, " Umbrellas ! Umbrellas to mend ! " 

The racket was ear-splitting, the talk sheer nonsense, 
a veritable medley, which Vautrin conducted like the 
leader of an orchestra, keeping an eye meanwhile on 
Eugene and Pere Goriot, who both had the appearance 
of being drunk already. Leaning back in their chairs, 
they gazed stolidly at the extraordinary scene around 
them, and drank little. Both were thinking of what 
they had to do that evening, but neither felt able to 
rise from his chair. Vautrin, who watched every 
change in their faces out of the corner of his eye, 
seized the moment when their heads were beginning 
to droop, to lean over Rastignac, and whisper in his 

" My lad, we are not clever enough to get the better 
of Papa Vautrin. He loves you a great deal too well 
to let you commit a folly. When I have made up my 

Pere Goriot. 223 

mind, nothing but the hand of Providence can stop 
me. Ha ! ha ! my little school-boy ; we thought we 
would go and tell Father Taillefer, did we ? Bah ! the 
oven is hot, the dough is light, the bread is in the pan, 
to-morrow we will eat it and brush off the crumbs. 
So you thought you could keep it out of the oven ! 
No! no! it is bound to bake. If any little bits of 
remorse stick in our gullet, they will pass off with the 
digestion. While we are sleeping our sound little 
sleep, Colonel Count Franchessini will open us a way 
to the money-bags of Michel Taillefer with the point 
of his sword. Victorine as her brother's heiress will 
have fifteen thousand francs a year at once. I have 
made the proper inquiries ; the mother left more than 
three hundred thousand." 

Eugene heard, but he had no power to answer. His 
tongue clove to the roof of his mouth ; he was over- 
come with an unconquerable drowsiness. He saw the 
table and the faces of the people through a luminous 
haze. Presently the noise diminished, the guests were 
leaving one by one. When Madame Vauquer, Madame 
Couture, Victorine, Vautrin, and Pere Goriot alone 
were left, Rastignac saw, as in a dream, Madame Vau- 
quer going round the table collecting the bottles and 
emptying their contents together to make full bottles. 

"Are they not foolish; are they not young?" she 
said. Those were the last words Eugene understood. 

" There is nobody like Monsieur Vautrin for playing 
such tricks," said Sylvie. " Just listen to Christophe 
snoring like a top ! " 

" Good-by, Mamma," said Vautrin. " I am off to the 
boulevard to admire Monsieur Marty in LeMont Sau- 

224 Pere Goriot. 

vage, a new play taken from ' Le Solitaire.' If you 
like, I will take you and these two ladies." 

" I thank you, no," said Madame Couture. 

" Oh ! my dear lady ! " said Madame Vauquer, 
"how can you refuse to see a play taken from 'Le 
Solitaire,' a work by Atala de Chateaubriand, that 
we all read and wept over under the iieuilles last sum- 
mer ; a perfectly moral tale, which might edify your 
young lady ? " 

"We are forbidden to go to theatres," said Victorine. 

" There ! those two are off," said Vautrin, looking 
at Rastignac and Pere Goriot in a comical way, and 
placing the student's head back in his chair so that he 
might rest more comfortably ; singing as he did so 
"'Sleep ! sleep! for thy sweet sake, 
I watch, I wake.' " 

" I am afraid he is ill," said Victorine. 

" Then stay and nurse him," replied Vautrin. " It 
is," he whispered in her ear, " a part of your submis- 
sive duty as a woman. He adores you, that young 
man ; and you will be his little wife. Remember, I 
predict it. And then," he added aloud, " they were 
much esteemed throughout the neighborhood, and had 
a large family, and lived happily ever after. That 's 
the ending of all love-stories. Come, Mamma," he 
continued, turning to Madame Vauquer, and putting 
his arm round her. " Put on your bonnet and the 
beautiful dress with the flowers all over it, and the 
countess's scarf, and let us be off. I '11 call a coach 
myself," and he departed, singing, 

" ' Sun, Sun ! divinest Sun ! 
That ripenest the lemons thou shinest on.' " 

Pere Goriot. 225 

" Mon Dieu ! Madame Couture, I could live happy 
in a garret with that man ! " said Madame Vauquer. 
" Look at Pere Goriot ! that old miser never offered 
to take me nowhere. He '11 be on the floor presently. 
Heavens ! it is n't decent for a man of his age to lose 
his senses in that way. I suppose you '11 say he never 
had any. Sylvie, get him upstairs." 

Sylvie took the old man under the arms and made 
him walk up to his room, where she threw him, dressed 
as he was, across the bed. 

" Poor young man !" said Madame Couture, putting 
back Eugene's hair which had fallen over his forehead ; 
" he is like a young girl ; he did not know the wine 
would be too much for him." 

*'I can tell you," said Madame Vauquer, "that 
though I have kept this pension forty years, and many 
young men have passed in that time through my hands, 
I never knew one as well behaved and gentlemanly as 
Monsieur Eugene. Is n't he handsome as he lies asleep ? 
Let him rest his head upon your shoulder, Madame 
Couture. Ah! he has turned it towards Mademoi- 
selle Victorine. Well, there 's a Providence for chil- 
dren ; a little more, and he would have cracked his 
skull against the back of the chair. Are not they a 
pretty couple ? " 

" Please be silent," cried Madame Couture, " you are 
saying things which " 

" Bah ! " said Madame Vauquer, " he can't hear any- 
thing. Come, Sylvie, and dress me. I am going to 
put on my best corset." 

" Madame ! your best corset after dinner ! " cried 
Sylvie. " No, get somebody else to lace it. I won't 

226 Pere Goriot. 

be the death of you. You risk your life, I tell you 

" I don't care ; I am going to do honor to Monsieur 

" You must be very fond of your heirs ! " 

" Come, Sylvie, no talking," said the widow, leaving 
the room. 

" At her age ! " said Sylvie, pointing at her mistress 
and looking at Victorine. 

Madame Couture and her ward remained alone in 
the dining-room, the head of Eugene resting against 
Victorine's shoulder. Christophe's loud snoring echoed 
through the house and made a contrast to the peaceful 
slumbers of the student, who was sleeping as quietly 
as an infant. Happy in allowing herself one of those 
tender acts of charity so dear to womanhood, and in 
feeling, without reproach, the heart of the young man 
beating against her own, Victorine's sweet face took 
on a look of maternal pride and protection. Across 
the thousand thoughts that stirred her heart there 
came a tumultuous sense of her new joy, filling her 
young veins with pure and sacred warmth. 

" Poor darling ! " said Madame Couture, pressing her 

The old lady gazed into the fair sad face, round 
which for the first time shone the halo of human happi- 
ness. Victorine resembled one of those quaint pictures 
of the Middle Ages, where the accessories are meagre 
or left to the imagination, while the artist spends the 
magic of his calm and noble art upon the face of his 
Madonna, yellow perhaps in tone, but reflecting from 
the heaven above its golden tints of glory. 

Pre G-oriot. 227 

"He only drank two glasses, Mamma," she said, 
passing her fingers over his hair. 

" If he were a dissipated man, my dear, he could have 
taken his wine like all the rest ; the fact that it over- 
came him proves the contrary." 

The sound of carriage wheels was heard. 

"Mamma," said the young girl hastily, " here comes 
Monsieur Vautrin ; take my place by Monsieur Eugene. 
I would rather not be seen thus by that man. He says 
things that sully the soul, and his look abases me." 

" No, no," said Madame Couture, " you do him in- 
justice. Monsieur Vautrin is a worthy man, some- 
what in the style of the late Monsieur Couture, brusque 
but kindly ; a benevolent bear." 

At this moment Vautrin came softly in and looked 
at the young couple, on whom the light of a lamp fell 

" Well, well ! " he said, folding his arms, " there 's a 
scene that might have inspired some of the finest pages 
of that good Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, author of ' Paul 
and Virginia.' Youth is very beautiful, Madame Cou- 
ture. Sleep, my poor boy," he added, looking down 
on Eugene ; " our blessings come to us sleeping. Ma- 
dame," he said presently, " what attaches me to this 
young man, and moves my heart as I gaze upon him, 
is that I know the beauty of his soul to be in harmony 
with the beauty of his face. See ! is it not the head of 
a cherubim resting on the shoulder of an angel ? He is 
worthy of a woman's love. If I were a woman I would 
be willing to die no ! not such a fool to live for 
him. As I gaze upon those two, Madame," he whis- 
pered, bending till he almost touched her ear, " I 

228 Pere G-oriot. 

cannot help thinking that God has created them for one 
another. The ways of Providence are full of mystery ; 
they try the reins and the heart. Seeing you together, 
my children," he added aloud, " united by an equal 
purity, and by every emotion of the human heart, I feel 
it is impossible that anything should part you in the 
future. God is just. But," he continued, addressing 
the young girl, "I think I have noticed on your hand 
the lines of prosperity. I know something of palm- 
istry. I often tell fortunes. Let me take your hand, 
Mademoiselle Victorine, don't be afraid. Oh ! what 
do I see ? On the word of an honest man, it will not 
be long before you are one of the richest heiresses 
in Paris! You will make the man who loves you 
supremely happy. Your father will call you to him. 
You will marry a man of title, young, handsome, and 
who adores you." 

At this moment the heavy steps of the coquettish 
widow interrupted Vautrin's prophecies. 

" Here is Mamma Vauquer-r-re, as fair as a star-r-r, 
and decked out like a carrot. Are we not just a little 
bit uncomfortable," he added, putting his hand on the 
top of her busk. " It strikes me we are squeezed a 
shade too tight, Mamma. If the play should make us 
cry, there would be an explosion : but I will pick up 
the pieces with the care of an antiquary." 

" He knows the language of French gallantry, 
does n't he ? " whispered the widow in the ear of Ma- 
dame Couture. 

" Farewell, my children ! " said Vautrin, turning 
towards Victorine and Eugene. " I bless yoii," he 
added, laying his hands upon their heads. " Believe 

Pere Goriot. 229 

me, Mademoiselle, there is value in the blessing of an 
honest man ; it will bring you joy, for God hears it." 

" Good-by, my dear friend," said Madame Vauquer 
to Madame Couture. "Do you think," she added in 
a whisper, " that Monsieur Vautrin has intentions 
towards me ? " 

" Ah ! my dear mother," said Victorine, looking at her 
hands with a sigh after the others had departed, " sup- 
pose that good Monsieur Vautrin spoke the truth ? " 

" One thing could make it true," replied the old 
lady ; " your monster of a brother need only be thrown 
from his horse " 

"Oh, Mamma!" 

" Mon Dieu, perhaps it is a sin to wish harm to one's 
enemy. Well, I will do penance for it. But, truly, I 
should not be sorry to lay flowers on his grave. He 
lias a hard heart. He never defended his mother ; he 
took all her fortune, and cheated you out of your share 
of it. My cousin had a great deal of money. Unfor- 
tunately for you there was no mention of her dot in 
her marriage contract." 

" My prosperity would be hard to bear if it cost 
any one his life," said Victorine ; " and if to make me 
happy my brother had to die, I would rather be as I 
am now." 

" Well, well ! As that good Monsieur Vautrin says, 
who, you see, is full of religious feeling," said Madame 
Couture, "I am glad to think he is not an unbe- 
liever, like so many others, who talk of God with less 
respect than they do of the Devil, well, as he says, 
who knows by what ways it will please Providence to 
guide us?" 

230 Pere Goriot. 

Aided by Sylvie, the two women took Eugene to 
his chamber and placed him on his bed, Sylvie un- 
fastening his clothes to make him more comfortable. 
Before leaving him, and when Madame Couture had 
turned to go, Victorine laid a little kiss upon his fore- 
head, with a rapture of happiness naturally to be ex- 
pected from so criminal an act! She looked round 
the chamber, gathered up, as it were, in one thought 
all the joys of this happy day, made a picture in her 
memory that she treasured long, and fell asleep the 
happiest creature in all Paris. 

The gay frolic under cover of which Vautrin had 
drugged the wine of Eugene and Pere Goriot decided 
his own fate. Bianchon, half tipsy, forgot to question 
Mademoiselle Michonneau concerning Trompe-la-Mort. 
If he had uttered that name he would have put Vau- 
trin on his guard, or rather, to give him his true 
name, Jacques Collin, one of the celebrities of the 
galleys. Moreover, the nickname of Venus of Pere- 
la-Chaise decided Mademoiselle Michonneau to give 
him up at the very moment when, confident of his lib- 
erality, she had calculated that it was better policy 
to warn him and let him escape during the night. 
Accompanied by Poiret, she went in search of the 
famous chief of detectives in the Petite Rue Sainte- 
Anne, under the impression that she was dealing with 
an upper-class employe named Gondureau. The direc- 
tor of the secret police received her graciously. Then, 
after a conversation in which the preliminaries were 
settled, Mademoiselle Michonneau asked for the dose 
by the help of which she was to do her work. The 

Pere Goriot. 231 

gesture of satisfaction made by the great man as he 
searched for the phial in the drawer of his writing- 
table, gave her a sudden conviction that there was 
more in this capture than the mere arrest of an escaped 
convict. By dint of beating her brains and putting 
two and two together, she came to the conclusion that 
the police hoped, through revelations made by con- 
victs won over at the galleys, to lay their hands upon 
a large amount of money. When she expressed this 
conjecture to the fox with whom she was dealing, he 
smiled and tried to turn aside her suspicions. 

" You are mistaken," he said. " Collin is the most 
dangerous sorbonne ever known among our robbers. 
That 's the whole of it. The rascals know this. He 
is their shield, their banner, their Bonaparte, in 
short. They all love him. That scoundrel will never 
leave his tranche on the Place de Greve." 

Mademoiselle Michonneau did not understand him ; 
but Gondureau explained to her the slang expressions 
he had made use of. Sorbonne and tranche are two 
energetic words of the thieves' vocabulary, invented 
because these gentry were the first to feel the need of 
considering the human head from two standpoints. 
Sorbonne is the head of the living man, his intellect 
and wisdom. Tranche is a word of contempt, express- 
ing the worthlessness of the head after it is cut off. 

" Collin baffles us," resumed the chief. " When we 
have to do with men of his stamp, of steel and iron, 
the law allows us to kill them on the spot if, when ar- 
rested, they make the slightest resistance. We expect 
a struggle which will authorize us to shoot Collin to- 
morrow morning. We thus avoid a trial and the costs 

232 Pere Goriot. 

of imprisonment and subsistence, and society is quit 
of him. The lawyers and the witnesses, their pay and 
expenses, the execution, and all the rest that is re- 
quired to rid us legally of such villains cost more 
than the three thousand francs we are to pay you. 
Besides, it saves time. The thrust of a bayonet into 
Trompe-la-Mort's paunch will prevent a hundred 
crimes, and spare us the consequences of the corrup- 
tion of fifty ill-disposed scoundrels, who are always 
hovei'ing on the verge of mischief. That 's the true 
function of the police, prevention of crime. Philan- 
thropists will tell you so." 

"It is serving one's country," cried Poiret. 

" Yes," replied the chief; " certainly we are serving 
our country : you are talking some sense this morning. 
People are very unjust to us in this respect. We ren- 
der society great services, and society overlooks them. 
It takes superior men to endure prejudice; only a 
Christian can accept the reproach that doing good in- 
curs when it is not done exactly in the line of received 
traditions. Paris is Paris, you know. That saying 
explains my life. I have the honor to salute you, 
Mademoiselle. I shall be with my men in the Jardin 
du Roi to-morrow morning. Send Christophe to the 
Rue de Buffon aud ask for Monsieur Gondureau at the 
house where I was staying. Monsieur, your servant. 
If anybody ever robs you, let me know, and I will re- 
cover what is lost for you. I am at your service." 

" Well," said Poiret to Mile. Michonneau, " there are 
fools in the world who are all upset by the word ' detec- 
tive.' That gentleman is very amiable ; and what he 
asks of you is as easy as saying 'How do you do ?'" 

Pere aoriot. 233 


THE next day was one long remembered in the an- 
nals of the Haison Vauquer. Hitherto the most re- 
markable event in its history had been the meteoric 
apparition of the fraudulent countess. But all was to 
pale before the catastrophes of this great day, which 
for the rest of her life supplied Madame Vauquer with 
topics of conversation. In the first place, Pere Goriot 
and Eugene slept till eleven o'clock. Madame Vau- 
quer, who did not get home from the theatre till very 
late, stayed in bed till half-past ten. Christophe, who 
had finished the bottle of wine made over to him by 
Vautrin, slept so late that everything was behindhand 
in the household. Poiret and Mademoiselle Michon- 
neau made no complaint about breakfast being late. 
As for Victorine and Madame Couture, they also slept 
far into the morning. Vautrin went out before eight 
o'clock, and got home just as breakfast was on the 
table. No one, therefore, offered any remonstrance 
when, at a quarter past eleven, Sylvie and Christophe 
knocked at all the doors and said that breakfast was 
served. While they were out of the dining-room, 
Mademoiselle Michonneau, who was the first person 
down that morning, poured her liquid into the silver 
goblet belonging to Vautrin, in which the cream for 
his coffee was heating in the bain-marie, together 

234 Pere Goriot. 

with the portions of the other guests. The old maid 
had counted on this custom of the house to accom- 
plish her purpose. 

It was not without difficulty that the family were 
finally got together. At the moment when Rastignac, 
still stretching himself, came last of all into the dining- 
room, a messenger gave him a note from Madame de 
Nucingen, which ran as follows : 

" I will not show false pride, nor will I be angry with you, 
my friend. I waited, expecting you, till two in the morning. 
To wait for one we love ! He who has known such pain 
would not impose it on another. It proves to me that you 
have never loved till now. What has happened ? I am very 
anxious. If I did not fear to betray the secrets of my heart I 
should have gone to find out whether joy or sorrow had befallen 
you. I feel the disadvantage of being only a woman. Re- 
assure me ; explain to me why you did not come after what 
my father told you. I may be angry, but I shall forgive you. 
Are you ill? Why do you live so far away from me ? One 
word for pity's sake ! You will be here soon, will you not ? 
Say merely, ' I am coming,' or ' I am ill.' But if you were 
ill, my father would have been here to tell me. What has 
happened ? " 

" Yes, what has happened ?" cried Eugene, hurriedly 
entering the dining-room, and crumpling up his note 
without reading the rest of it. " What o'clock is it ? " 

"Half-past eleven," said Vautrin, putting sugar in 
his coffee. 

The escaped convict gave Eugene that glance of 
cold compelling fascination which very magnetic people 
have the power of giving, a glance which is said to 
subdue the maniacs in a niad-house. Eugene trembled 

Pere Goriot. 235 

in every limb. The roll of a carriage was heard in the 
still street, and a servant in the Taillefer livery, which 
Madame Couture recognized at once, came hurriedly 
into the dining-room, with an excited air. 

" Mademoiselle," he cried, " Monsieur your father 
has sent for you. A great misfortune has befallen him. 
Monsieur Frederic has fought a duel. He received a 
sword-thrust in the forehead. The doctors have no 
hope of saving him. You will hardly be in time to see 
him breathe his last. He is unconscious already." 

"Poor young man !" exclaimed Vautrin, " how can 
people quarrel when they have thirty thousand francs 
a year! Most assuredly young men do not tread the 
paths of wisdom " 

" Monsieur ! " interrupted Eugene. 

" Well ! and what of it, you big baby ? " said 
Vautrin, quietly finishing his cup of coffee, an opera- 
tion which Mademoiselle Michonneau watched so in- 
tently that she paid no heed to the extraordinary event 
that stupefied the people around her. " Are there not 
duels every day in Paris ? " 

"I shall go with you, Victorine," said Madame 

The two women flew off without hats or shawls. 
Victorine, with tears in her eyes, gave Eugene a part- 
ing glance, which said, " I did not think our happiness 
Avould so soon have turned to grief ! " 

" Why, you are quite a prophet, Monsieur Vautrin," 
said Madame Vauquer. 

" I am all things," replied Jacques Collin. 

" It is most singular," said Madame Vauquer, break- 
ing forth into a string of commonplaces. u Death takes 

236 Pere Goriot. 

us without warning. Young people are often called 
before the aged. It is lucky for us women that we are 
not expected to fight duels. But we have maladies 
of our own unknown to men, child-bed especially. 
"What unexpected luck for Victorine ! Her father will 
be forced to acknowledge her." 

" Just think," said Vautrin, looking at Eugene, 
" yesterday she had not a sou; this morning she has a 
fortune of millions." 

" Ah ! Monsieur Eugene," cried Madame Vauquer, 
"you put your hand in the bag at the right moment." 

As Madame Vauquer said this, Pere Goriot looked at 
Eugene and saw the crumpled letter in his hand. 

" You have not read it," he said. " What does that 
mean ? Are you like all the rest ? " 

" Madame, I shall never marry Mademoiselle Victo- 
rine," said Eugene, addressing Madame Vauquer with 
an expression of mingled horror and disgust which 
astonished the others at the table. 

Pere Goriot seized the student's hand and pressed 
it ; he would fain have kissed it. 

" Oh ! oh ! " said Vautrin, " they have an excellent 
saying in Italy, col tempo" 

" I was to wait for an answer," said the messenger to 

" Say I am coming." 

The man went away. Eugene's agitation was so 
great that he could not be prudent. 

" What can be done ? " he said aloud, though speak- 
ing to himself, "I have no proofs." 

Vautrin smiled. At this moment the potion ab- 
sorbed by the stomach began to take effect. Never- 

Pere Goriot. 237 

theless the convict was so vigorous that he rose, looked 
at Rastignac, and said in a hollow voice, " Young man, 
our blessings come to us while we sleep." 

As he said the words he fell down, to all appearance 

" The justice of God ! " cried Eugene. 

" Why, what 's the matter with him, poor dear Mon- 
sieur Vautrin," exclaimed Madame Vauquer. 

" It is apoplexy," cried Mademoiselle Michonneau. 

"Sylvie ! run, my girl, go for the doctor," said the 
widow. " Ah, Monsieur Rastignac, go, please, and get 
Monsieur Bianchon ; perhaps Sylvie will not find our 
own doctor, Monsieur Griraprel." 

Rastignac, glad of the excuse to escape from that 
horrible den, rushed away at full speed. 

" Christophe ! here, go as fast as you can to the 
apothecary's, and ask him to give you something for 
apoplexy. Pere Goriot, help us to carry him up to his 
own room." 

Vautrin was seized ; dragged with difficulty up the 
staircase, and laid upon his bed. 

" I can be of no further use ; I am going to see my 
daughter," said Monsieur Goriot. 

" Selfish old thing ! " cried Madame Vauquer. " Go ! 
I only wish you may die like a dog yourself." 

" See if you have any ether, Madame Vauquer," said 
Mademoiselle Michonneau, who with the aid of Poiret 
had unfastened Vautrin's clothes. 

Madame Vauquer went to her own room and left 
Mademoiselle Michonneau mistress of the field. 

"Come, quick! take off his shirt and turn him 
over. Be good for something so far, at least, as to 

238 Pere Q-oriot. 

save my modesty," she said to Poiret ; " you stand 
there like a fool." 

Vautrin being turned over, Mademoiselle Michon- 
neau gave him a smart tap on the shoulder, and the two 
fatal letters appeared in the midst of the red circle. 

" Well, you have not had much trouble in earning 
your three thousand francs," cried Poiret, holding 
Vautrin up while Mademoiselle Michonneau was put- 
ting on his shirt again. " Ouf ! but he is heavy," he 
said, laying him down. 

" Hold your tongue ! I wonder if there is a strong- 
box or a safe ? " said the old maid with avidity, her 
eyes almost looking through the walls as she glanced 
eagerly at every bit of furniture in the room. " If one 
could only open this writing-desk on some pretext," 
she said. 

" Perhaps that would n't be right," remarked Poiret. 

" Where 's the harm ? Stolen money belongs to no 
one it is anybody's. But we have not time, I hear 
the Vauquer." 

" Here is the ether," said the widow. " Well, I de- 
clare, this is a day of adventures but, look ! that man 
cannot be so very ill ; he is as white as a chicken." 

" As a chicken," repeated Poiret. 

" His heart beats regularly," said Madame Vauquer, 
placing her hand upon it. 

" Regularly ? does it though ? " said Poiret, sur- 

He is all right." 

"Do you think so?" asked Poiret. 

" Why, yes ! he looks as if he were sleeping. Sylvie 
has gone for the doctor. Look, Mademoiselle Michon- 

Pere Goriot. 239 

neau, he is sniffing the ether. Bah ! it was only a 
kind of spasm ; his pulse is good. He is as strong as 
a Turk. Just see, Mademoiselle, what a fur tippet he 
has got on his breast ! He will live to be a hundred, 
he will ! His wig has n't tumbled off goodness ! 
why, it is glued on. He has got some hair of his own 
and it 's red ! They say men with red hair are 
either very good or very bad : he is one of the good 

" Good enough to hang," interrupted Poiret. 

" Round a pretty woman's neck, you mean," cried 
Mademoiselle Michonneau quickly. " Go downstairs, 
Monsieur Poiret. It is our place to take care of you 
men when you are ill. You had better go out and 
take a walk, for all the good you do," she added. 
" Madame Vauquer and I will sit here and watch this 
dear Monsieur Vautrin." 

Thus admonished, Poiret slunk off without a mur- 
mur, like a hound that has got a kick from its master. 

Rastignac had gone to walk, to breathe fresh air, for 
he was stifled. What had happened ? The crime had 
been committed at the hour fixed ; he had wanted to 
put a stop to it the evening before what had hin- 
dered ? .What must he do now? He trembled lest in 
some way he was an accomplice. Vautrin's cool as- 
surance horrified him still. 

"Suppose he dies without speaking?" he asked 

He was walking breathlessly along the alleys of the 
Luxembourg, as if pursued by a pack of hounds : he 
seemed to hear them yelping on his traces. 

240 Pere G-oriot. 

" Here 1 " cried the voice of Bianchon, " have you 
seen the Pilote?" 

The Pilote was a radical paper edited by Monsieur 
Tissot, which made up a country edition a few hours 
after the appearance of the morning papers, and often 
contained items of later news. 

" There 's a great affair in it," said Bianchon ; " young 
Taillefer has fought a duel with Comte de Franchessini 
of the Old Guard, who ran two inches of his sword 
into his forehead. So now the little Victorine is one 
of the best matches in Paris. Hein ! if one had only 
known it! What a game of chance life is and 
death, too. Is it true that Victorine looks upon you 
with an eye of favor, my boy ? " 

" Hush, Bianchon ! I will never marry her. I love 
a charming woman, a woman who loves me. I 

" Well, you say it in a tone as if you were goading 
yourself not to give up your charming woman. Show 
me the lady worth the sacrifice of the wealth of the 
house of Taillefer." 

" Are all the devils on my track ? " cried Rastignac. 

" Why, what are you about ? Haye you gone mad ? 
Give me your wrist," said Bianchon, " I want to feel 
your pulse. You have got a fever." 

"Go at once to Mother Vauquer's," said Eugene: 
"that scoundrel Vautrin has just dropped dead." 

" Ah-h ! " cried Bianchon, dropping Rastignac's 
hand, "that confirms my suspicions; I will make sure 
about them." 

During his long walk Eugene passed through a 
solemn crisis. He made, as it were, the circuit of his 
conscience. If he struggled with his own soul, if 

Pere Croriot. 241 

he hankered and hesitated, it must be owned that his 
probity came out of that bitter and terrible discus- 
sion like a bar of iron, proof against every test. He 
remembered the secret Pere Goriot had let drop the 
day before. He thought of the appartement chosen 
for him by Delphine in the Rue d'Artois. He took 
out her letter, and re-read it, and kissed it. 

"Her love is my sheet anchor," he said. " The poor 
old man, too, he has had much to suffer ! He says 
nothing of his griefs, but who cannot guess what they 
have been to him? "Well, I will take care of him 
as if he were my father ; I will give him the joys he 
longs for. If she loves me she will sometimes come 
and pass the day with him. That grand Comtesse 
de Restaud is a vile woman ; she shuts her doors 
against her father. Dear Delphine! she is kinder 
to the poor old man yes ! she is worth loving." 
He drew out his watch and admired it. " Everything 
will go well with me," he said. " When people love 
each other, what harm is there in accepting mutual 
gifts? I may keep it. Besides, I shall succeed, 
and repay her a hundredfold. In this liaison there 
is no crime, nothing to make the strictest virtue 
frown. We deceive no one : it is falsehood that makes 
us vile. How many honorable people contract just 
such unions! Her quarrel with her husband is irre- 
mediable. Suppose I were to ask him, that big 
Alsatian, to give up to me a woman he can never 
render happy ? " 

The struggle of his mind lasted long. Though the 
victory remained with the virtues of youth, and he 
repulsed the temptation to make himself the accom- 

242 Pere Goriot. 

plice of a deed of blood, he was nevertheless drawn 
back at dusk to the Maison Vauquer by an irresistible 
impulse of curiosity. He swore to himself that he 
would quit the place forever, but he must know if 
Vautrin was dead. 

Bianchon after administering an emetic had taken 
the matters vomited by Vautrin to his hospital for 
chemical analysis. When he saw Mademoiselle Mich- 
onneau's anxiety to have them thrown away his sus- 
picions increased ; but Vautrin got over the attack so 
quickly that he soon dropped the idea of a plot agaiust 
the life of that jovial merry-maker. 

When Rastignac came in, Vautrin was standing by 
the stove in the dining-room. The guests had come 
together earlier than usual, anxious to learn the par- 
ticulars of the duel and to know what influence it 
would have on the future of Victorine. As Eugene 
entered, he caught the eye of the imperturbable sphinx. 
The look the latter gave him pierced deep into his 
heart, and touched some chords of evil with so pow- 
erful a spell that he shivered. 

"Well, my dear fellow," said the escaped convict, 
" Death will have a fierce struggle to get hold of me. 
These ladies tell me I have recovered from a rush of 
blood to the head that would have killed an ox." 

" Indeed, you might say a bull," said Madame 

" Are you sorry to see me alive ? " said Vautrin to 
Eugene in a whisper, divining his thought. " You 
will find, on the contrary, that I am devilishly strong." 

" Ah, by the by ! " exclaimed Bianchon, " the day 
before yesterday Mademoiselle Michonneau was speak- 

Pere Goriot. 243 

ing of a man named Trompe-la-Mort. That name 
would suit you, Monsieur Vautrin." 

The words were a thunderbolt to Vautrin. He 
turned pale and staggered. His magnetic glance fell 
on Mademoiselle Michonneau, who sank beneath the 
power of his eye. She fell back on a chair, her knees 
giving way under her. Poiret stepped nimbly between 
the two, understanding instinctively that she was in 
danger, so ferocious was the expression of the convict 
as he threw off the mask of good humor under which 
he had so long concealed his real nature. Without 
the least comprehending what was taking place before 
their eyes, the others saw that something was wrong, 
and stood by bewildered. At that moment footsteps 
were heard and the rattle of muskets in the street, as 
a squad of soldiers brought their pieces to the pave- 
ment. While Collin cast a quick glance at the win- 
dows and the walls, instinctively looking for the means 
of escape, four men showed themselves at the door of 
the dining-room. The foremost was the chief of the 
detective police, and the three others were members 
of his force. 

" In the name of the law and the King ! " said one of 
the latter, his words being drowned by a murmur of 
amazement ; but in a moment silence reigned in the 
room as the guests stood aside to give passage to these 
men, each of whom had his right hand in a side-pocket 
where he held a loaded pistol. Two gendarmes, who 
stepped in after the detectives, stood by the doorway 
leading to the salon, while two more appeared at that 
which opened towards the staircase. The tread and 
the guns of a squad of soldiers outside sounded on 

244 Pere Goriot. 

the pebble-paved space along the side of the building. 
Every chance of flight was thus cut off from Trompe- 
la-Mort, on whom all eyes now turned in his extremity. 
The chief went straight to him, and gave him a blow 
so vigorously applied that it tore the wig from its 
place, and showed the head of Collin in all its horrible 
integrity. The hair, red and close-cropped, gave to his 
face a look of mingled strength and cunning ; and the 
harmony of the face and head with the stalwart chest 
revealed the whole being of the man as by a flash 
from the fires of hell. All present comprehended 
Vautrin, his past, his present, the future before him, 
his implacable dogmas, the religion of his own good 
pleasure, the dominion he had exercised by the cyni- 
cism of his ideas and his acts, and by the force of his 
extraordinary organism. The blood rushed to his 
face, and his eyes glittered like those of a wildcat. 
He made one bound of savage energy ; he uttered one 
roar, so ferocious that the people near him shrank back 
in fear. At this movement, like that of a lion at bay, 
and assuming to be justified by the terror of the by- 
standers, the detectives drew their pistols. Collin no 
sooner heard the cocking of the triggers than he un- 
derstood his danger, aud gave instant proof of the 
highest of human powers, horrible, yet majestic 
spectacle ! His whole being passed through a pheno- 
menal change which can only be compared to that 
which takes place in a boiler full of the steam that can 
blast mountains in its might, and yet at the touch of 
a drop of cold water sinks into instant dissolution. 
The drop of water which in a moment calmed his 
rage was a reflection that flashed, quick as lightning, 

P$re Goriot. 245 

through his brain. He smiled quietly, and glanced at 
his wig. 

"This is not one of your polite days," he said to the 
chief of police, stretching out his hands to the gen- 
darmes with a motion of his head. "Messieurs, put 
on the handcuffs. I take all present to witness that I 
make no resistance." 

A murmur of admiration, called forth by the promp- 
titude with which this wondrous man mastered the 
fire and molten lava of the volcano in his breast, ran 
through the room. 

" That puts an end to your kind intentions," he said, 
looking full at the celebrated director of the detective 

" Come, undress ! " said the chief, in a tone of 

"What for?" asked Collin. "There are ladies 
present. I deny nothing, and I surrender." 

He paused, and looked on all around him with the 
air of an orator about to hold the attention of his 

" Write down, Papa Lachapelle," he said, address- 
ing a little old man with white hair, who placed him- 
self at the end of the table, taking from a portfolio a 
form for the official report of the arrest, " that I ac- 
knowledge myself to be Jacques Collin, condemned to 
twenty years' imprisonment; and I have just given 
proof that I did not steal my nickname. If I had so 
much as lifted a hand," he said, turning to his late com- 
panions, " those fellows would have spilled my claret on 
the domestic hearthstone of Mamma Vauquer. These 
rogues delight in setting snares for their victims." 

246 Pere Goriot. 

Madame Vauquer turned pale on hearing these 
words. " Mon Dieu ! " she cried, " it is enough to 
bring on an illness ! To think of my having been at 
the theatre with him only last evening ! " she said 
to Sylvie. 

" Show more philosophy, Mamma," said Collin. 
" Was it really a misfortune to amuse yourself in my 
box at the Gaite last night? Are you better than we? 
We have less infamy branded on our shoulders than 
you have in your hearts, you flabby members of a 
gangrened society ! Even the best among you could 
not hold out against me." His eyes turned to Rastig- 
nac, to whom he gave a kindly smile in strange con- 
trast to the harsh expression of his features. " Our 
little bargain holds good, my lad," he said ; " that is, 
in case of acceptance. You know " and he sang : 
" ' My Fanny is charming 
In her simplicity.' 

Don't be uneasy," he resumed. " I shall be all right 
again before long. They fear me too much to play 
me false." 

The bagne, with its manners and vocabulary, its 
abrupt transitions from the jocose to the horrible, its 
fiendish grandeur, its familiarity, its degradation, were 
all exhibited to the eye in the person of this man, 
no longer a man, but the type of a degenerate race ; of 
a savage people, lawless yet logical, brutal but pliant. 
On a sudden Collin had become an infernal poem, an 
exposition of all human emotions save one, repent- 
ance. His glance was that of the fallen angel, prepared 
to carry on a losing war. Rastignac bent his head, 
accepting the comradeship thus foi'ced upon him, in 

Pere Goriot. 247 

expiation of the evil thoughts which had brought him 
near to crime. 

"Who betrayed me?" said Collin, casting his 
glance around the circle. It stopped at Mademoiselle 
Michonneau. " Ah ! it was you, sleuth-hound ! you 
gave me a sham apoplexy, you prying devil ! If I said 
two words, your head would be mown off in a week. 
But I forgive you. I 'm a Christian. Besides, it was 
not you who sold me. But who, then ? Ha, ha ! 
you are rummaging up there," he cried, hearing the 
detectives overhead, who were opening his closets 
and taking possession of his effects. " The birds are 
flown, the nest is empty. You can find nothing there. 
My ledgers are here," he added, tapping his forehead. 
" Now I know who sold me. It can be no other than 
that dirty blackguard, Fil de Soie. Is n't it so, Father 
Catch'em ?" he said to the chief of police. " I guess it 
from the way you are looking for the bank-notes up- 
stairs. None there, my little spies! As for Fil de 
Soie, he '11 be under the sod in a fortnight, even if 
you try to guard him with the whole force of your 
gendarmerie. How much did you pay that old 
Michonnette ? " he asked, turning to the police agents. 
" Only a thousand crowns ? Why, I was worth more 
than that, you decayed Ninon Pompadour in tatters 
Venus of the cemetery ! If you had given me 
warning, I 'd have paid you double. Ha ! you did 
think of it ? Haggler in human flesh ! Yes, I 
would have given you six thousand francs to spare 
myself a journey which I don't like, and which puts 
me out of pocket," he added, as they were screwing on 
the handcuffs. "These people will take pleasure in 

248 Pere Goriot. 

letting things drag along, just to keep me idle. If they 
would only send me off to the galleys at once, I should 
soon get back to my work, in spite of those simpletons 
at the prefecture of police. La bas [down there] 
they would turn their souls inside out to set their gen- 
eral at liberty, their trusty Trompe-la-Mort. Is 
there any one of you who can boast of having, as I 
have, ten thousand brothers ready to do everything 
for you ? " he asked proudly. " There is virtue here," 
striking his breast. " I have never betrayed any one. 
Ha! old adder!" he continued, addressing the old 
maid. " Look at these people. They fear me, but 
they loathe you. Pick up your gains and begone ! " 

He made a pause, and looked round upon the other 

" What fools you are ! " he said. " Did you never 
see a convict ? A convict of the stamp of Collin, here 
present, is a man who is less base than other men, and 
who protests against the glaring deceptions of the so- 
cial contract, as Jean Jacques called it, whose pupil 
I am proud to be. For myself, I stand alone against 
the Government, with all its courts of law, its budgets 
and gendarmes, and I get the better of it." 

" The devil ! " exclaimed the painter. " I should 
like to sketch him now." 

"Tell me," he continued, turning to the chief of 
police, " tell me, equerry to Monseigneur the execu- 
tioner, govei-nor of the Widow \La Veuve, appalling 
name, full of terrible poesy, given by the convicts to 
the guillotine] ; come, be a good fellow and say, was 
it Fil de Soie who sold me? I should be sorry if he 
died for another; it would not be just." 

Pre Goriot. 249 

At this moment the detectives, who had opened 
everything and taken an inventory of all that was in 
his apartment, came down and said something in a low 
voice to the chief of police. The proces-verbal (written 
official report of all the circumstances of the arrest) 
was now completed. 

" Gentlemen," said Collin, turning to his late com- 
panions, " they are about to take me from you. You 
have all been very amiable to me during my residence 
among you, and I shall think of you with gratitude. 
Receive my adieux. You will permit me to send you 
figs from Provence." 

He went a few steps, and then turned and looked at 

"Adieu, Eugene," he said, in a gentle, sad voice, 
strangely in contrast with the rough tone he had used 
hitherto. " If you are ever in trouble, remember, I 
leave you a devoted friend." Notwithstanding his 
handcuffs, he put himself on guard, gave the word like 
a fencing-master, one, two, and made a pass as if 
with the sword. " In case of misfortune, go there. 
Man or money, all are at your disposal." 

This strange being put so much buffoonery into 
these last words that no one present understood their 
meaning except Rastignac. 

When the house was vacated by the gendarmes, the 
soldiers, and the agents of the police, Sylvie, who was 
bathing her mistress's forehead with vinegar, looked 
round upon the assembled household and said, 

" Well all the same, he was a good man." 

These words broke the spell which the rush of 
events and the diversity of emotions had exercised 

250 PZre Goriot. 

over the spectators of this strange scene. They 
glanced at each other, and then by a common im- 
pulse all turned to Mademoiselle Michonneau, who 
crouched near the stove, cold, bloodless, withered as a 
mummy, her eyes cast down as though she felt the 
protection of the green shade insufficient to conceal 
their expression. The cause of the aversion they had 
long felt for her was suddenly made clear to their 
minds. A murmur of disgust, which by its unanimity 
expressed the common feeling of all present, sounded 
through the room. Mademoiselle Michonneau heard 
it, but she did not change her attitude. Bianchon 
was the first to speak. He turned to the man next 
him and said, in a low voice, 

" I shall decamp if she is to eat her dinner here." 

Instantly every one, except Poiret, accepted the 
suggestion ; and the medical student, sustained by pub- 
lic opinion, walked up to the old man. 

" You who enjoy a special intimacy with Mademoi- 
selle Michonneau," he said, " had better speak to her. 
Make her understand that she must leave this house 
without delay." 

" Without delay ? " repeated Poiret, astonished. 

Then he went up to the old maid and said something 
in a whisper. 

"But I have paid a month in advance; I have a 
right to stay here while I pay my money like every- 
body else," she said, darting a viperous glance at the 

" That need not hinder," said Rastignac, " we will 
all subscribe and return you the money." 

" Monsieur stands up for Collin? " she replied, casting 

Pere Gorioti 251 

a venomous and searching look at Rastignac. "It is 
easy to guess why. We all heard his last words." 

Eugene sprang forward as though he would have 
seized and strangled her. 

" Let her alone ! " cried the others. 

Rastignac folded his arms and stood mute. 

" We must get rid of Mademoiselle Judas," said the 
painter, turning to Madame Vauquer. " Madame, if 
you do not turn out la Michonneau we shall all leave 
you ; and we shall report everywhere that your pension 
is frequented by spies and convicts. If you do as we 
demand, we will be silent about what has happened, 
which, indeed, is liable to take place in the best estab- 
lishments, until galley-slaves are branded on the fore- 
head and prevented from disguising themselves as 
honest citizens and playing the buffoon as they please." 

Hearing this, Madame Vauquer miraculously recov- 
ered her senses, sat upright, folded her arms, and opened 
her cold light eyes, which showed no trace of tears. 

"But, my dear Monsieur," she said, "do you mean 
to ruin my house ? There is Monsieur Vautrin oh ! 
Mon Dieu" she cried, interrupting herself, "I cannot 
help giving him his honest name ! he leaves me a 
whole suite of rooms vacant; and now you ask me to 
consent to have two more rooms unoccupied at a season 
when everybody is settled ! " 

" Come, gentlemen, get your hats. We will go and 
dine in the Place Sorbonne at Flicoteaux's," said 

Madame Vauquer made a rapid mental calculation as 
to which side her interest lay, and then waddled up to 
Mademoiselle Michonneau. 

252 Pere Goriot. 

" Come, my dear good lady," she said, " you don't 
want to be the death of my establishment, I am sure. 
You see to what an extremity I am reduced by the be- 
havior of these gentlemen. Go up to your room for 
this evening." 

" That won't do ! That will not do at all ! " cried all 
the others. " We insist upon her leaving the house at 

" But she has not dined," said Poiret piteously. 

"She can get her dinner somewhere else," cried 
several voices. 

" Begone, spy ! " 

" Down with the spies with both of them ! " 

"Gentlemen," said Poiret, suddenly exhibiting the 
courage of an old ram defending his favorite ewe, " re- 
spect her sex." 

" Spies are not of any sex." 

" Famous sex-orama ! " 

" A la porte-orama ! " 

"Gentlemen, this is indecent. When people are 
dismissed from a house there are certain formalities to 
be observed. We have paid our board in advance, 
and we shall stay," said Poiret, putting on his amor- 
phous old hat, and taking a chair beside Mademoiselle 
Michonneau, to whom Madame Vauquer was appealing 
in a low voice. 

" Ah ! you bad boy ! " cried the painter ; "petit me- 
chant, va ! " 

" Come on, then," said Bianchon, " if they are not 
going, we are." 

At this summons all the guests moved in a body to 
the door of the salon. 

Pere Goriot. 253 

" Mademoiselle ! what shall I do ? I shall be ruined ! " 
cried Madame Vauquer. "You cannot stay they 
will proceed to violence." 

Mademoiselle Michonneau rose. 

" She is going ! " 

" She won't go ! " 

" Yes, she will ! " 

" No, she won't ! " 

These alternating exclamations and the increasing 
hostility of all around her decided the old maid, and 
she prepared to leave, after a few whispered stipulations 
with her landlady. 

" I am going to Madame Buneaud's," she said with 
a menacing air. 

" Go where you choose, Mademoiselle," cried Madame 
Vauquer. to whom this choice of the rival establish- 
ment added insult to injury. "Go, if you like, to the 
Buneaud's. She will give you wine fit to make the 
goats caper with stomach-ache, and stews made of cold 
pieces from the eating-houses." 

The guests stood in a double row in profound silence. 
Poiret looked so tenderly at Mademoiselle Michonneau, 
and yet was so naively undecided whether he ought to 
go or stay, that the victorious party, put in good hu- 
mor by the departure of the old maid, began to laugh 
at him. 

" Xi, xi, xi, Poiret ! " cried the painter, as if setting 
on a dog ; " hi, old fellow ! " 

The Museum employe began to sing, with comic 
gestures, a well-known ballad : 

" Partant pour la Syrie 
Le jeune et beau Dunois." 

254 Pere Goriot. 

" You had better go, Poiret ; you are dying to follow 
her," cried Bianchon, " trahit sua quemque voluptas" 

" Like follows like translation more liberal than 
literal from Virgil," said a tutor who was one of the 

Mademoiselle Michonneau looked hard at Poiret, 
and made a movement as if to take his arm. He was 
unable to resist the appeal, and came forward to sup- 
port her. There was a burst of applause and peals of 

" Bravo, Poiret ! " 

" Good for old Poiret ! " 

" Poiret-Apollo ! " 

" Poiret-Mars ! " 

" Plucky Poiret ! " 

At this moment a messenger came in with a note 
for Madame Vauquer. She read it, and sank down 
upon a chair. 

" Now there is nothing left but to be struck by light- 
ning," she said, " and burn the house down ! Young 
Taillefer died at three o'clock. I am rightly punished 
for having wished those ladies good-luck at the expense 
of that poor young man. Madame Couture and Vic- 
torine have sent for their things, and are going to 
live with the father. Monsieur Taillefer allows his 
daughter to keep the widow Couture as her companion. 
Four appartement vacant ! Five lodgers gone ! " she 
said, with tears in her voice. " Misfortune has visited 
my house ! " 

The roll of a carriage echoed up the quiet street and 
stopped before the door. 

" Here 's some lucky windfall," cried Sylvie. 

Pere Goriot. 255 

Goriot came in, radiant with happiness ; his face 
shone ; he seemed transfigured. 

" Goriot in a hackney-coach ! " cried the others ; 
" the end of the world has come ! " 

The old fellow went straight to Rastignac, who was 
standing apart dumb-founded, and took him by the 
arm. " Cotne ! " he cried eagerly. 

"Do you know what has happened ?" said Eugene; 
" Vautrin was a convict escaped from the galleys ; they 
have just arrested him. And young Taillefer is dead." 

" Well what is that to us ? " replied Pere Goriot ; 
" I am to dine with my daughter to-day at your rooms ; 
you undei-stand ? She is waiting for us. Come ! " 

He pulled Rastignac violently by the arm, and car- 
ried him off as if he were a lover and Rastignac a 
woman . 

" Let us sit down to dinner ; " said the painter, and 
each took his place at table. 

" I declare," said Sylvie, " things do go wrong to- 
day ! My haricot of mutton has got stuck. Well ! 
you will have to eat it burned, whether or no ! " 

Madame Vauquer had no heart to say a word when 
she saw ten persons instead of eighteen sitting down 
to table ; but they all made a good-natured effort to 
console her and cheer her up ; and though at first they 
could think of nothing but Vautrin and the startling 
events of the day, the serpentine current of their talk 
soon led them to duels, the galleys, law-courts, prisons, 
and the reform of the criminal code, from whence they 
wandered far away from Jacques Collin and Victorine 
and her brother. Although there were but ten of them, 
they made noise enough for twenty, and gave the im- 

256 Pere G-oriot. 

pression of being more in number than usual, which 
was the only apparent difference between the dinner of 
to-day and the dinners of other days. The habitual 
insouciance of that devil-may-care world of Paris, 
which each day gluts its maw with the events of the 
last twenty-four hours, resumed its sway , and even 
Madame Vauquer permitted herself to listen to the 
voice of hope, that divinity being represented by 
the fat Sylvie. 

Pere Goriot. 257 


THIS day was destined to be, from morning till night, 
a phantasmagoria to Eugene, who in spite of his self- 
command and his strength of mind could not collect 
his scattered senses when he found himself in the coach 
beside Pere Goriot, whose babble flowed joyously as 
from a fount of unexampled happiness, sounding in 
Eugene's ears, after so many emotions, like the words 
of a dream : 

" We finished our work this morning. "We are all 
three to dine together, together, do you understand? 
It is four years since I last dined with Delphine, 
my own little Delphine ! I shall be there all the eve- 
ning. We have been at your rooms since the morning. 
I have been working like a day-laborer, coat off. I 
helped to bring in the furniture. Ah ! ah ! you 
don't know how charming she can be at the head of a 
table. She will look after me. She will say, ' Come, 
Papa, eat some of this it is good ! ' and then I shall 
not be able to swallow a mouthful. Oh ! it is so long 
since I have spent an evening with her ; but the happy 
time is coming ! " 

" Ah ! " cried Eugene, " the world seems upside 

" Upside down ! " exclaimed Pere Goriot. " Why, 
it never seemed to me so right-side-up before. I see 

258 Pere Cf-oriot. 

none but happy faces in the streets ; everybody seems 
to be shaking hands ; some people are hugging each 
other; men look as gay as if they were all going to 
dine with their daughters, and gobble down the good 
dinner I heard her order from the chef at the Cafe 
Anglais. But, bah ! what matter ? Sitting beside her, 
aloes would taste as sweet as honey." 

" Am I coming to life again ? " said Eugene. 

" Get on faster, coachman," cried Pere Goriot, letting 
down the front glass of the carriage. " Drive faster ! 
I will give you five francs drink-money if you get me 
there in ten minutes." 

On hearing this promise, the man dashed across Paris 
at break-neck speed. 

" The fellow crawls," cried Goriot. 

" But where are you taking me ? " asked Rastignac. 

" To your own rooms," said Pere Goriot. 

The carriage stopped in the Rue d'Artois. The old 
man got out first, and flung ten francs to the coachman 
with the prodigality of a widower in the first flush of 
his release. 

" Come ! let us go upstairs," he said to Rastignac, 
marshalling him across the courtyard and taking him to 
an appartement on the third floor, in the rear of a new 
and handsome building. Pere Goriot had no need to 
ring the bell. Therese, Madame de Nucingen's wait- 
ing-woman, opened the door, and Eugene found him- 
self in a charming bachelor establishment, consisting 
of an ante-chamber, a little salon, a bed-room, and a 
dressing-room looking out upon a garden. In the little 
salon, whose furniture and decorations would have 
borne comparison with everything beautiful and grace- 

Pere Goriot. 259 

ful of its kind, be saw Delphine by the soft light of 
wax-candles, who rose from a couch by the fire and, 
laying the hand-screen she had been using on the 
chimney-piece, said in a voice full of tenderness, " So 
you had to be sent for, Monsieur, who is so dull of 
comprehension ! " 

Therese left the room. Eugene took Delphine in 
his arms, and as he pressed her to his heart tears came 
into his eyes. The contrast between what he saw and 
what he had so lately seen overwhelmed him, and the 
emotions of this strange day, when so much had wea- 
ried his spirit and confused hi.s brain, brought on a rush 
of nervous agitation. 

"I knew all along how he felt," whispered Pere 
Goriot to his daughter, while Eugene lay back upon a 
sofa unable to say a word, or to explain why this last 
wave of the magic wand had so powerfully affected him. 

" Come and see your rooms," said Madame de Nu- 
cingen, after a pause, taking his hand and leading him 
through the pretty appartement, where the carpets, the 
furniture, and all the lesser decorations were of the 
same style, in miniature, as those of Delphine's own 

" We will keep our happiness a secret from all 
except ourselves," she whispered, smiling. 

"Yes, but I must have my share in it," said Pere 

" You know you are included : ourselves means 
you, too." 

" Ah ! that is what I wanted you to say. You will 
not think me in the way, will you ? I shall come and 
go like some good spirit, always at hand, though he 

260 Pere Goriot. 

does not make himself known. Well, my Delphi- 
nette, Ninette, Dedel ! was I not right to tell you of 
this pretty little appartement, and to say, 'Let us 
furnish it for him ' ? At first you did not like the 
idea. It is I who planned all this pleasure. Fathers 
should give their children everything, just as they 
gave them life. Give all, give ever, that is a father's 

" Have we guessed what you like best ? " said Del- 
phine to Eugene as they came back into the salon. 

"Yes," he said, "only too well. Alas! the luxury 
of these rooms is complete ; my every dream is real- 
ized. The poetry of such a life, so fresh, so elegant, 
I feel it all ! But I cannot accept it from you, and I 
am too poor as yet " 

" Ah ! would you dare to cross me already ? " she 
asked, with a mock air of authority, making one of 
those pretty grimaces by which women try to laugh 
away a scruple. But Eugene had that day too sol- 
emnly interrogated his conscience, the arrest of Vau- 
trin, revealing the horrible abyss into which he had so 
nearly plunged, had too powerfully forced his mind 
back to thoughts of duty and delicacy, to let him now 
yield to her caressing assault upon his scruples. A 
profound sadness came over him. 

" Is it possible," cried Madame de Nucingen, " that 
you refuse me? Do you kno\v all that such a refusal 
means? It means that you doubt the future, that 
you doubt me, or that you fear to be false yourself 
to my affection. If you love me and if I love you, 
why do you draw back and refuse such trifling obliga- 
tions ? If you knew the pleasure I have had in pre- 

Pere Goriot. 2G1 

paring these rooms for you, you would not hesitate ; 
you would beg ray pardon for the very thought of 
refusing me. Besides, you must remember that I have 
money of yours : I have laid it out to the best advan- 
tage, that is all. You fancy that your refusal is a 
proof of highmindedness : it is the contrary. Oh, 
Papa ! give him good reasons why he should not refuse 
us," she exclaimed after a pause, turning to her father. 
" Does he think I would be less fastidious than him- 
self on a point of honor? " 

Pere Goriot listened to this dispute with the ab- 
sorbed smile of an Oriental snake-charmer. 

" Child that you are, reflect ! " continued Madame de 
Nucingen, taking Eugene's hand. "You stand on the 
threshold of life ; between you and success there lies 
a barrier insurmountable for most young men, the 
barrier of poverty, of obscurity ; the hand of a woman 
removes it, and you draw back ! You will succeed ; 
you will make a brilliant future ; I read success upon 
your brow. When this comes to pass, can you not pay 
back to me what I lend you now? In olden times 
ladies gave to their knights armor and swords and 
helmets, coats of mail and horses, that they might 
fight at tournaments and win them honor. Eugene, 
the things I offer you are the arms of the nineteenth 
century ; tools essential to the man who wishes to rise 
above his fellows. Ah ! " she added, " the garret 
where you live must be sumptuous, if it is anything 
like Papa's ! Do you wish to make me miserable ? 
Answer ! " she said, slightly shaking his hand. " Mon 
Dieu, Papa ! make him accept, or I will go away and 
never let him see me again." 

262 Pere Goriot. 

" I can settle it," said Pere Goriot, coming out of 
his trance. "My dear Monsieur Eugene, you would 
be glad no doubt to borrow money from the Jews, 
wouldn't you?" 

" I must," he replied. 

t( Very good ; now, then, I have you," said the old 
man, drawing out a shabby leather pocket-book. "I 
am your Jew. I have paid all the bills, and here they 
are. Not a sou is owing for anything in this apparte- 
ment. The furniture did not cost a great deal, at 
most five thousand francs. I lend you that sum. You 
won't refuse me ; I am not a woman. You can write 
me an acknowledgment upon a scrap of paper, and 
repay me some of these days." 

Delphine and Eugene looked at each other in aston- 
ishment, and tears filled their eyes. The student took 
the hand of the old man and pressed it warmly. 

" Why, you need not think so much of it ; are you 
not both my children ? " said Goriot. 

" But, my poor Father, how did you manage it ?" said 
Madame de Nucingen. 

" Ah ! now you want me to tell you all," he an- 
swered. " Well, after I had persuaded you to let 
him live here, and I saw you buying things fit for a 
bride, I said, ' She will find herself in trouble about 
the money.' My lawyer tells me the suit against your 
husband cannot be settled for six months. It can 
wait. I have sold out my securities, that brought me 
in thirteen hundred and fifty francs a year. With 
fifteen thousand francs of the capital I have bought 
an annuity of twelve hundred francs, and I have paid 
these bills with the remainder, my children. I have a 

Pere G-oriot. 263 

bedroom here which will cost only a hundred and 
fifty francs a year, and I can live like a prince on forty 
sous a day and have something left over. I hardly 
ever wear out my clothes, and I shall never need any 
new ones. For a fortnight past I have been laughing 
in my sleeve, saying to myself, ' How happy we shall 
be ! ' Was I not right ? are you not happy ? " 

"Oh, Papa, Papa!" cried Madame de Nucingen, 
springing into the arms of her father, who placed her 
tenderly on his knee. She covered him with kisses ; 
her blonde hair touched his cheeks as she shed tears 
upon the aged face all glowing now with happiness. 
" Dear Father, you are indeed a father. No ! there 
is not another father in the world like you. Eugene! 
you loved him before, but you will love him better 

"Why, my children," said Pere Goriot, who for 
six years had not felt a daughter's heart against his 
bosom ; " my Delphinette, do you want to kill me 
with joy ? My poor heart cannot bear it. Ah ! Eu- 
gene, the debt is repaid already ! " 

And the old man pressed his daughter to his heart 
with an embrace so frantic that she cried out, " Oh ! 
you hurt me." 

" Hurt you ! " he said, turning pale. He looked at 
her with an expression of anguish. " No, no ! I could 
not hurt you," gently kissing the waist his arm had 
pressed too roughly. " It was you who hurt me by 
that cry of pain. The furniture cost more than I 
told him," he whispered in her ear ; " but we must 
deceive him a little, or we shall not be able to manage 

264 Pere Goriot. 

Eugene, amazed at the inexhaustible self-devotion 
of Pere Goriot, gazed at him with a naive admiration 
which in the young expresses implicit faith. 

" I will make myself worthy of such goodness ! " 
he exclaimed. 

" Oh, my Eugene, those words are noble ! " and Ma- 
dame de Nucingen kissed him on the forehead. 

" For thy sake he refused Mademoiselle Taillefer 
and her millions," said Pere Goriot. "Yes, the little 
girl was fond of him ; her brother is dead, and she is 
as rich as Croesus." 

"Do not say that!" cried Rastignac. 

" Eugene," whispered Madame de Nucingen. " I 
have now a regret to mar my happiness ; but I will 
love you the better for it and forever." 

" This is the happiest day of my life since your mar- 
riages," cried Pere Goriot. "I am willing to suffer 
all that it may please God to send me, so long as it 
does not come through my children. As long as I live 
I shall say to myself, ' In February, 1820, there was a 
day when I was happier than other men are in a life- 
time ! ' Look at me, Fifine," he said to his daughter. 
" Ah ! is she not lovely ? Tell me, where can you 
find another little woman with such a skin, and such 
pretty dimples? She is mine, I made her, the little 
darling ! Ah ! my friend, be good to her, make her 
happy, and I will reward you. If there were but one 
chance to go to heaven and I had got it, I would give 
it to you. But, come ! let us dine, let us dine," he 
said, as if beside himself. "All is ours." 

Poor Father ! " 

" Ah ! my child," he added, taking her head between 

Pere Goriot. 265 

his hands, and kissing her hair; " you make my heaven 
here. Come and see me often ; my room is close by ; 
you have not far to go. Come often ; promise me, 
say that you promise it." 

" Yes, dear Father." 

" Say it again." 

" Yes, my good Father." 

"Hush, now! for I should make you say it a hun- 
dred times if I thought of myself only. Let us dine." 

The evening was spent in tender child's play such 
as this, Pere Goriot not the least childish of the 
three. He sat at his daughter's feet and kissed them ; 
he gazed into her eyes ; he laid his head upon her dress. 
He was guilty of a thousand follies, like a lover with 
his first love. 

"You see now," whispered Delphine to Eugene, 
" that when my father is here he exacts all my atten- 
tion. It will often be very troublesome." 

Eugene, who had already felt some twinges of jeal- 
ousy, could not exactly blame this speech, although it 
breathed the quintessence of ingratitude. 

" When will the appartement be finished? " he asked, 
looking round him. " Must we leave it to-night ? " 

" Yes ; but to-morrow you dine with me : it is the 
opera night, you remember." 

" I shall go and sit in the pit," said Pere Goriot. 

It was now midnight ; Madame de Nucingen's car- 
riage was waiting. Pere Goriot and Eugene walked 
back to the Maison Vauquer, talking of Delphine on 
the way with an enthusiasm that revealed a curious 
contrast of expression in the two individual passions. 

266 Pere Goriot. . 

Eugene could not conceal from himself that the father's 
love, stained by no selfish interest, crushed his out of 
sight by its vehemence and grandeur. To the father 
the idol was all purity and goodness, and his adora- 
tion was nourished as much by recollections of the 
past as by his visions of the future. 

They found Madame Vauquer sitting over the stove 
with Christophe and Sylvie on either side of her, like 
Marius among the ruins of Cartilage. She was wait- 
ing for the two who were to-night her sole lodgers, and 
bemoaning herself to Sylvie. Though Lord Byron 
puts very beautiful lamentations into the mouth of 
Tasso, they have not the ring of truth which vibrated 
in those now proceeding from the lips of the unfortu- 
nate landlady. 

" Only three cups of coffee to make to-morrow, 
Sylvie ! Is not my empty house enough to break my 
heart ? Alas ! what will life be to me without my 
lodgers? Nothing. My house is desolate, deserted 
by its men. They were its furniture. What is life 
without furniture? What have I done that Heaven 
should send me these misfortunes? We laid in pota- 
toes and beans, yes, beans enough for twenty people. 
The police in my house ! Must we eat nothing but 
potatoes? I shall send Christophe away." 

The Savoyard, who was asleep, woke up on hearing 
his name and said, " Madame ? " 

"Poor fellow! he is as faithful as a dog," said 

" A lost season ! People are housed. Can lodgers 
drop from heaven ? I shall lose my senses. And that 
witch of a Michonneau, to have carried off Poiret ! 

Pere Goriot. 267 

How did she get such a grip on the man ? He fol- 
lows her about like a puppy-dog." 

"Bah!" said Sylvie, shaking her head. "Those 
old maids! they know the tricks of things." 

"That poor Monsieur Vautrin, whom they turned 
into a convict! " resumed the widow. "Well, Sylvie, 
it is too much for me ; I can't believe it yet. A man 
as gay as he, who drank his gloria at fifteen francs a 
month, and paid on the nail ! " 

" And who was generous, too," remarked Christophe. 

" There 's some mistake," said Sylvie. 

" No, there can't be. He owned it himself," said 
Madame Vauquer. " And to think that all these things 
happened here in this neighborhood, where even the 
cats don't come ! I must be dreaming, it can't be pos- 
sible ! We saw Louis XVI. meet with his accident ; 
we saw the fall of the Emperor; we saw him come 
back and fall again, all that belonged to the order 
of possible things. But there are no such hap-hazards 
about pensions. People can get along without a king, 
but they must have breakfast and dinner ; and when 
an honest woman, nee de Conflans, gives dinners, with 
all sorts of good things, unless the very end of the 
world should come but that's what it is ; it is the 
end of the world ! " 

" And to think that that Michonneau, who has done 
all the mischief, is to receive, they say, three thousand 
francs a year!" cried Sylvie. 

"Don't mention her to me ! she is a wicked woman," 
cried Madame Vauquer; "and she has gone off to 
Buneaud's : she is capable of anything. She must 
have done horrible things in her lifetime, robbed, 

268 Pere Goriot. 

murdered, no doubt. She ought to have gone to the 
galleys, instead of that poor, dear man " 

At this moment Eugene and Pere Goriot rang the 

" Ah ! there are my two faithful ones," said the 
widow, with a sigh. 

The faithful pair, who at that moment had but 
slight remembrance of the disasters of the pension, 
unceremoniously announced to their landlady that they 
were to leave her on the following day and take up 
their quarters in the Chaussee d'Antin. 

" Sylvie ! " cried the widow. " My last trump is 
gone ! Gentlemen, you have given me my death-blow. 
It has pierced to my vitals, I feel it there. This day 
has laid the weight of years upon my head. I shall 
go mad, upon my word, I shall ! What can be 
done with the beans ? I am left desolate. You shall 
go to-morrow, Christophe. Good night, gentlemen, 
good night." 

" What is the matter with her ? " said Eugene to 

" Oh, Lord ! everybody has left the house because 
of what happened this morning. It has upset her 
head. There ! I hear her crying ; it will do her 
good to blubber a bit. This is the first time I 've 
known her to wet her eyes since I have lived with 

The next morning Madame Vauquer s'etait rai- 
sonnee, as she expressed it, that is, she had come to 
her senses ; and though afflicted as a woman might 
well be who had lost all her lodgers, and whose life 
was suddenly turned topsy-turvy, she had her wits 

Pere Goriot. 269 

about her, and displayed no more than a reasonable 
grief caused by such sudden disasters. The glances 
that a lover casts upon the sacred places of a lost mis- 
tress were not less moving than those with which she 
now looked round her deserted table. Eugene tried 
to comfort her with the idea that Bianchon, whose 
term at the hospital was to end in a few days, might 
step into his vacant room ; and told her that the em- 
ploye at the Museum had frequently been heard to 
wish for the appartement of Madame Couture ; and 
that no doubt in a few days the house would be full 

" Heaven grant it, my dear Monsieur Eugene ! But 
misfortune has come to my roof: before ten days are 
gone, death will be here. You will see," she added, 
casting a lugubrious glance around the dining-room. 
"Which of us will he summon?" 

" If that is the case, we had better be off," whis- 
pered Eugene to Pere Goriot. 

" Madame ! " cried Sylvie, bursting in excitedly. " I 
have not seen Mistigris for three days ! " 

" Ah ! if my cat is dead ; if he too has left me, 
I " 

The poor woman could not finish her sentence. She 
clasped her hands and threw herself back in her arm- 
chair, overwhelmed by this ominous loss. 

Toward noon, the time of day when postmen make 
their rounds in the neighborhood of the Pantheon, 
Eugene received a letter in an elegant envelope, sealed 
with the arms of Beauseant. It inclosed an invitation 
addressed to Monsieur and Madame de Nucingen, for 

270 Pere Goriot. 

a ball about to be given by the viscountess, which 
had been announced for some weeks. A little note to 
Eugene accompanied the invitation : 

I think, Monsieur, that you will undertake with pleasure to 
interpret my sentiments to Madame de Nucingen. I send you 
the invitation you asked of me, and shall be delighted to 
make the acquaintance of the sister of Madame de Restaud. 
Come to my ball, and bring that charming lady with you ; 
but do not let her absorb all your affection. You owe me a 
little, in return for that which I feel for you. 


" Well," said Eugene, reading this note for the sec- 
ond time, " Madame de Beauseant tells me plainly that 
she does not wish to see the Baron de Nucingen." 

He went at once to Delphine's, delighted that he 
had it in his power to bestow a pleasure of which no 
doubt he would reap the reward. Madame de Nu- 
cingen was in her bath ; and Rastignac waited for her 
with the eager impatience of his years, and in the 
grasp of emotions which are given but once to the 
lives of young people. The first woman to whom a 
man attaches himself, if she appears to him in all the 
splendors of Parisian life, need fear no rival. Love 
in Paris is not the love of other regions. Neither 
men nor women are there duped by the time-worn 
ideas which all display like banners, for the sake of de- 
cency, over affections calling themselves disinterested. 
In Paris, a woman seeks to be loved not only for her 
charms, but for all the satisfactions she can give to the 
social ambitions of her lover ; she knows that she must 
gratify the thousand vanities which make up life in 

Pcre Goriot. 271 

the great world. In that world, Love is braggart, 
spendthrift, gayly deceitful, and ostentatious. If the 
women of the court of Louis XIV. envied Mademoi- 
selle de la Valliere the ardor which caused that mighty 
prince to forget the fabulous cost of the ruffles which 
he tore in facilitating the entrance of the Due de Ver- 
mandois into the world, what can be expected of a 
lesser humanity ? Be young and rich and titled, ye 
Parisian lovers ! Be something better, if you can. 
The more incense you burn before your idol, if idol 
you have, the more that deity will bend a favorable 
ear. Love is here an idolatry, his rites more costly 
far than those of any other worship; he flits and van- 
ishes like an imp, delighting to leave his path marked 
out by havoc. True passion is the poetry of garrets ; 
without it, could the vestal flame of love be kept 
alive ? Exceptions to the laws of this Draconian code 
of Paris maybe found in oases of that wilderness. 
in hearts not led astray by social theories, that dwell 
retired near some fount of purity, some ever-bubbling 
spring of living waters, where, faithful to these quiet 
shades, they listen to the teachings of the Infinite 
written for their learning on all things, even their own 
hearts, patiently waiting to rise on wings of angels, 
and compassionating the earth-bound tendencies of 
the world about them. 

Rastignac, like other young men who begin life 
among the traditions of rank, expected to enter the 
lists fully equipped. He had caught the fever of the 
world and thought himself able to master it, without 
in truth understanding the means or the ends of his 
ambition. When the heart finds no pure and sacred 

272 Pere Goriot. 

love to fill its cup of life, a draught of mere success 
may have its value ; nay, the thirst for power is glori- 
ous when, stripped of personal ambition, it takes the 
form of patriotism. But Rastignac had by no means 
reached the heights whence men may contemplate the 
course of life and form a judgment on it. As yet he 
had not wholly shaken off those fresh sweet theories 
and dreams which enfold young people brought up in 
country solitudes, as the green calyx does the bud. Up 
to this time he had hesitated to cross the Parisian rubi- 
con. In spite of his ardent curiosity, he clung to the 
traditions of the noble life led by men of breeding in 
their ancient manors. Nevertheless, his last scruples 
vanished the night before, as he stood in his new rooms 
in the Rue d'Artois. There, coming into possession 
of the material advantages of wealth, in addition to his 
natural advantages of rank and family, he stripped off 
the skin of a country gentleman and slid with ease into 
the new circumstances which his ambition told him 
would lead to fortune. As he waited for Delphine, 
luxuriously seated in her pretty boudoir, he seemed so 
far removed from the Rastignac of the year before, that 
as he looked at himself with the moral optics of his 
own mind he wondered if he were indeed the same. 

" Madame will see you," said Therese, whose voice 
startled him. 

He found Delphine on a couch beside the fire, fresh 
and restful. As she lay back in her muslin draperies, 
it was impossible not to compare her to one of those 
oriental plants whose fruit comes with the flower. 

" At last we are together," she said with some 

Pere Goriot. 273 

" Guess what I bring you," said Eugene, sitting 
down beside her and lifting her arm that he might 
kiss her hand. 

Madame de Nucingen made a gesture of delight as 
she read the invitation; and turning to Eugene with 
tears in her eyes, she threw her arms around his neck 
and drew him down to her in a delirium of gratified 

" And it is you to whom I owe this happiness ! " 
she said. " Obtained by you, it is more than a triumph 
of self-love. No one has ever been willing till now to 
introduce me into that charmed circle. Perhaps you 
think me at this moment as frivolous and light-minded 
as any other Parisian ; but remember, my friend, I am 
yours, and if I wish more than ever to enter the 
society of the Faubourg Saint-Germain it is because 
that society is yours." 

"Do you not think," said Engene, "that Madame 
de Beauseant intimates pretty plainly that she does 
not wish to see Monsieur de Nucingen at her ball?" 

"Yes, I do," said Delphine, returning the note to 
Eugene ; " those great ladies have a genius for imper- 
tinence. But no matter ; I shall go. My sister is to 
be there. I know she has ordered a bewitching dress 
for the occasion. Eugene," she resumed, in a low 
voice, "she wants to appear at that ball in all her 
glory, that she may give the lie to dreadful rumors. 
You don't know what things are said about her. Nu- 
cingen told me this morning that they talked of her at 
the club, and handled her without mercy. Ah, mon 
Dieu! upon how slight a thread hangs the honor of a 
woman ! and her family as well, for I feel myself 

274 Pere Goriot. 

involved in these attacks upon my poor sister. They 
say that Monsieur de Trailles has given notes to the 
amount of a hundred thousand francs ; that these have 
gone to protest, and that he has even been in danger 
of arrest. In this extremity, so they say, my sister 
has sold her diamonds to a Jew, those beautiful dia- 
monds which you have seen her wear, heir-looms be- 
longing to the Restaud family. I am told that for two 
days nothing else has been talked of. I understand 
now why Anastasie has ordered a dress of gold tissue : 
she means to attract all eyes at Madame de Beauseant's 
by appearing in a superb toilette, and wearing the dia- 
monds. But she shall not outshine me ! She has al- 
ways tried to crush me ; she was never kind to me, 
though I have done much for her, I have even lent 
her money when she was in trouble. But do not let 
us talk about her now. To-day I wish to think of 
nothing but happiness." 

Rastignac did not leave Madame de Nucingen till an 
hour after midnight. As she bade him farewell she 
said, with a tone and expression of melancholy, " I am 
timid, superstitious ! Call my presentiments foolish if 
you will, but I feel as if some terrible catastrophe were 
hanging over me." 

" Child ! " said Eugene. 

"Ah! it is I who am the child to-night," she an- 
swered laughing. 

Rastignac returned to the Maison Vauquer, as he be- 
lieved, for the last time ; certain of quitting it forever 
the next day. As he walked along he surrendered 
himself to happy dreams, as young men will who taste 
upon their lips the draught of joy. 

Pre Goriot. 275 

" Well ? " said Pere Goriot, as Rastignac passed his 

" Good night," answered Eugene ; " I will tell you all 

" Ah, to-morrow ! " cried the old man. " Go to bed 
now, and good night. To-morrow our happy life 
begins ! " 

276 Pere Goriot. 


THE next morning Goriot and Rastignac were wait- 
ing for the porters to remove their effects to the Rue 
d'Artois, when, about noon, the noise of an equipage 
stopping before the Maison Vauquer echoed up the 
Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve. Madame de Nucingen 
got out of the carriage, and learning from Sylvie that 
her father was still there, ran lightly up to his room. 
Eugene was in his own chamber, but his neighbor did 
not know he was there. At breakfast he had asked 
Pere Goriot to attend to the removal of his luggage, 
promising to rejoin him at four o'clock in the Rue 
d'Artois. But while the old man was out of the house 
searching for porters, Eugene, after answering to his 
name at the law-school, returned to settle his account 
with Madame Vauquer, not wishing to leave the bill 
with Goriot, lest the old man in his enthusiasm might 
insist on paying it for him. The landlady was out, 
and Eugene ran upstairs to make sure that nothing had 
been left behind ; congratulating himself for his pre- 
caution when he found in a table-drawer the accept- 
ance given to Vautrin, which he had carelessly flung 
aside at the time when he paid the debt. Not having 
any fire, he was about to tear it into little pieces, when 
his hand was arrested in the act by hearing the voice 
of Delphine in Pere Goriot's chamber. He stopped 

Pere Goriot. 277 

short to listen to what she was saying, confident that 
she could have no secrets from him. Then, after her 
first words, he found the conversation between father 
and daughter too deeply interesting to resist the temp- 
tation of hearing more. 

" Ah, my Father," Delphine cried, " would to heaven 
you had interfered about my fortune in time to save 
me from ruin ! Can I speak freely ? " 

" Yes, the house is empty," said Pere Goriot in a 
strange tone. 

" What is the matter with you, Father ? " she asked ; 
are you ill ? " 

" I feel as if you had struck me with an axe upon 
my head. God forgive you, darling ! you do not 
understand how much I love you, or you would not 
tell me bluntly such terrible things, especially if the 
case is not desperate. What has happened ? Why 
are you here now, when in half an hour we should have 
been in the Rue d'Artois ? " 

" Ah, Father, how could I think of that when a 
great catastrophe has befallen me? I am out of my 
senses. Your lawyer has brought things to light 
which we must have known sooner or later. Your 
great experience in business is now my only hope, and 
I have rushed to you as a poor drowning creature 
catches at a branch. When Monsieur Derville found 
that Monsieur de Nucingen was opposing him with all 
sorts of evasions he threatened him with a law-suit, 
saying that an order from the Court for such a pro- 
ceeding could easily be obtained. Nucingen came to 
my room this morning and asked me if I was bent on 
his ruin and mine. I answered that I knew nothing 

278 Pere Cf-oriot. 

about all that ; that I had my own fortune ; that I 
ought to be allowed to spend the income of it as I 
pleased ; that all business in connection with the mat- 
ter was in the hands of my lawyer ; and, finally, that 
I was totally ignorant on such matters, and did not 
wish to discuss them. That was exactly what you 
advised me to say, was it not ? " 

" Yes, that was right," said Pere Goriot. 

" Well," continued Delphine, " then he told me 
plainly about his affairs. He has embarked all his 
own money and mine in speculations that have not yet 
matured, in furtherance of which he has sent great 
sums of money to other countries. If I force him. to 
account for my fortune now, I shall oblige him to 
show his books and file his schedule ; whereas if I 
will wait one year, he promises on his honor to double 
my fortune and invest the whole his and mine in 
landed property which shall be settled on me. My 
dear Father, he meant what he said ; he frightened me. 
He asked my pardon for his past conduct. He gave 
me back my liberty ; he promised not to interfere with 
my life in any way provided I would agree to let him 
manage our affairs in my name. He promised, as a 
proof of his good faith, that I should call in Monsieur 
Derville at any time to examine the legality of the 
papers by which the property was to be made mine. 
In short, he put himself into my power, tied hand and 
foot. He wishes for the next two years to keep the 
expenditure of the household under his control, and he 
besought me to spend no more than my allowance dur- 
ing that pei'iod. He proved to me that he is doing all 
he can to save appearances. He has sent away his 

Pere Goriot. 279 

danseuse, and is going to practise the most rigid though 
quiet economy, so that he may come safely out of his 
speculations without impairing his credit. I answered 
him as unkindly as I could. I appeared to doubt him, 
so that by pushing him to extremities I might force 
him to tell me everything. He showed me his books ; 
and at last he burst into tears. I have never seen a 
man in such a state. He lost his head ; he talked of 
killing himself; he was out of his mind. I felt for 

" And you believed him ?" cried Pere Goriot. " He 
was playing a part. They were lies. I know what 
Germans are in business. They seem honest and open 
enough ; but under that air of frankness they are 
shrexvd and cunning, and worse to deal with than any 
others. Your husband is imposing on you. He finds 
himself close-pressed, and feigns death. He wants to 
be more completely master of your fortune under your 
name than he could be under his own. He will make 
use of you to save himself in the event of business 
losses. He is as cunning as he is false. He is a bad 
fellow. No, no! I will not go to my grave leaving 
my daughters stripped of everything. I know a little 
about business still. He says he has embarked all his 
capital in speculations. Well, then, his interest in 
these speculations must be represented by stocks or 
some kind of securities. Let him produce them, and 
allow you to take your share. We will choose the safest, 
and run our chance. We will have all the papers reg- 
istered under the name of Delphine Goriot, wife, sepa- 
rated as to property from the Baron de Nucingen. 
Does he take us for fools ? Does he suppose I would 

280 Pere Groriot. 

patiently permit him, were it only for a day, to leave 
you without fortune? Never! not for a day, nor a 
night, no, not for two hours! If such a thing should 
come to pass I could not survive it. What ! have I 
worked for forty years ; have I carried sacks of flour 
on my back and toiled in the sweat of my brow ; have 
I pinched and denied myself all the days of my life 
for you, my angels, who repaid my toil and lightened 
my burden, that to-day my fortune and my life 
should pass away in smoke? I should die raving 
mad ! By all that is sacred in heaven and earth we 
will drag this matter to the light ; we will examine 
into his books, his coffers, his speculations. I will not 
sleep ; I will not lie down upon my bed ; I will not 
eat, until I find out if your fortune is all there. 
Thank God ! you are at least separated as to property. 
You shall have Monsieur Derville for your lawyer ; he 
is an honest man. Heavens and earth ! you shall 
have your poor little million to yourself, you shall 
have your fifty thousand francs income to spend as you 
please to the end of your days, or I will make such a 
stir in Paris Ha ! ha ! I will appeal to the Cham- 
ber of Deputies, if the law courts will not right us. 
If I can see you happy and at ease about money I 
shall forget my own sorrows. Our money is our life ; 
money does everything. What does that big log of 
an Alsatian mean ? Delphine, don't yield a farth- 
ing to that brute, who has held you in bondage and 
made you miserable. If he needs your help, he shall 
not have it unless we can tie him tight and make him 
march a straight line. JUbn Dieu ! my whole head is 
on fire ; there are flames in my skull. Think of my 

Pere G-oriot. 281 

Delphine being brought to want! Oh, my Fifine, if 
that should happen to thee! Sapristi! where is my 
hat? Come, I must go directly. I shall insist on 
looking into everything, his books, his business, his 
correspondence. We will go this moment. I cannot 
be calm until it is proved that your fortune is secure 
beyond all risks, and I have seen it with my own 
eyes ! " 

u My dear Father, you must set about it cautiously. 
If you put the slightest desire for vengeance into this 
affair, if you even show hostile feeling to my husband, 
you will ruin me. He knows you; he thinks it nat- 
ural that influenced by you I should be anxious about 
my fortune ; but I swear to you, he has it in his power, 
and he means to keep it there. He is capable of run- 
ning away with it, and leaving me without a sou. He 
knows I would not dishonor the name I bear by bring- 
ing him to justice. His position is both strong and 
weak. Indeed, I have examined into it all. If you 
push him to extremities, I am lost." 

" Is he dishonest? Is he a rogue ? " 

"Yes, Father, he is," she cried, throwing herself 
into a chair and bursting into tears. " I did not mean 
to acknowledge it. I wished to spare you the pain 
of knowing that you had married me to such a man. 
Vices and conscience, body and soul, all are in keep- 
ing. It is terrible. I hate him, and yet I despise him. 
A man capable of flinging himself into such transac- 
tions as he has confessed to me, without shame or 
remorse, fills me with disgust. My fears spring from 
what I know of him. He offered me he, my hus- 
band ! my full liberty (and you know what he meant), 

282 Pere Goriot. 

if I would play into his hands ; if I would lend my 
name to dishonorable transactions, under cover of 
which he can escape if he meets with losses." 

"But there are laws! There is the guillotine for 
such men," exclaimed Pere Goriot. 

" No, Father, there are no laws that can reach him. 
Listen to what he told me. This is the substance 
of it, stripped of his circumlocutions : ' Either all will 
be lost, and you will not have a farthing, you will 
be ruined ; for I can take no one into partnership but 
yourself, or you must let me carry out my specula- 
tions as they now stand, to the end.' Is that plain 
speaking ? He still trusts me. He knows that I shall 
not touch his fortune, and shall be satisfied with my 
own. It has come to this, either I must enter into 
a repulsive and dishonest partnership, or I am ruined. 
He buys my complicity in his crimes by giving me the 
liberty to live as I please. He says, ' I will take no 
notice of your faults, if you will not prevent my plot- 
ting the ruin of poor people.' Is that clear ? Do you 
know what he means by ' speculations ' ? He buys un- 
improved land in his own name, and puts forward men 
of straw to build houses on the land. These men con- 
tract with builders on an agreement for long credits ; 
and afterwards, for a nominal sum, they make over 
the buildings to my husband. They then go into sham 
bankruptcy, and the contractors lose everything. The 
name of Nucingen & Co. serves as a decoy. I under- 
stand now how it is that to prove the payment of 
money, should inquiry be aroused, he has sent away 
enormous sums to Amsterdam, London, Naples, and 
Vienna. How could we get hold of those sums ? " 

Pere Q-oriot. 283 

Eugene heard the dull sound of Pere Goriot's knees 
falling on the tiled floor of his chamber. 

" Good God ! What have I done ? " he cried. " I 
have delivered my daughter over to this man 1 He 
will strip her of everything! Oh, forgive me, my 
poor girl ! " 

" True. If I am now in the depths of trouble, it is 
partly your fault, Father," said Delphine. "A girl has 
so little sense up to the time she is married. What 
do we know of the world, or of men or manners? It 
is the duty of our fathers to see to these things. Dear 
Father, I don't mean to blame you, forgive me for 
saying so. In this case the fault was all mine. No 
don't cry, Papa," she said, kissing his forehead. 

" Don't you cry, either, my little Delphine. Stoop 
lower, that I may kiss away your tears. Ah ! I will 
find my wits again. I will unravel the tangle thy 
husband has made of thy affairs." 

" No, let me manage him. I think I can get him 
to put some of my money at once into land. Perhaps 
I can make him buy back Nucingen in Alsace in my 
name. I know he wants it. But come to-morrow, 
Papa, and look into his books and his affairs. Mon- 
sieur Derville knows nothing whatever about business. 
Stay ! don't come to-morrow, it will agitate me ; 
Madame de Beauseant's ball is the day after, and I 
want to take care of myself and be as beautiful as pos- 
sible, to do honor to my dear Eugene. Let us go and 
look into his chamber." 

At this moment another carriage drew up in the Rue 
Neuve Sainte-Genevieve, and Madame de Restaud's 
voice was heard speaking to Sylvie. 

284 Pere Goriot. 

" Is my father in ? " 

This circumstance saved Eugene, who was on the 
point of throwing himself upon the bed and pretending 
to be asleep. 

" Ah, Papa, have you heard about Anastasie ? " said 
Delphine, recognizing her sister's voice. " It seems 
that very strange things have been going on in her 

" What things?" cried Pere Goriot. "Is this to be 
my end ? My poor head cannot bear another blow ! " 

" Papa," said the countess, entering. " Ah, you 
here, Delphine?" 

Madame de Restaud seemed embarrassed at the 
sight of her sister. 

" Good morning, Nasie," said Madame de Nucingen. 
" Do you think my being here so extraordinary ? I 
see my father every day." 

" Since when ? " 

" If you came here, you would know." 

" Don't aggravate me, Delphine," said the countess, 
in a lamentable voice. "I am very unhappy. I am 
ruined, my poor Father, utterly ruined, at last!" 

"What is it, Nasie?" cried Pere Goriot. " Tell me 
all, my child. Oh, she is fainting ! Delphine, come, 
help her ; be kind to her, and I will love you better 
than ever if I can." 

" My poor Nasie," said Madame de Nucingen, mak- 
ing her sister sit down, " speak ; we are the only ones in 
the world who love you enough to forgive everything. 
You see, family affections are the safest, after all." 

Pere Goriot shivered. " I shall die of this," he said, 
in a low voice. "Come," he continued, stirring the 

P$re G-oriot. 285 

miserable fire ; " come to the hearth, both of you ; I 
am cold. What is it, Nasie? Speak, you are kill- 
ing me." 

" Father ! " said the poor woman. " My husband 
knows all. You remember, some time ago, that note 
of Maxime's which you paid for me at Gobseck's? 
Well, it was not the first. I had paid many before. 
About the beginning of January he was greatly out of 
spirits; he would tell me nothing. But it is so easy to 
read the heart of those we love, a trifle tells every- 
thing; besides, there are presentiments. He was more 
loving and tender than I had ever known him. Poor 
Muxime! In his heart he was bidding me good-by; 
lie was thinking of blowing out his brains. At last 
I besought him so earnestly that he told me but 
not until I had been two hours on my knees that 
he owed a hundred thousand francs. Oh, Papa ! 
a hundred thousand francs ! I was beside myself. 
I knew you had not got them ; I had eaten up your 
all " 

" No," said Pere Goriot, " I have not got them. I 
cannot give them to you unless I stole them. Yes ! 
I could have gone out to steal them. Nasie, I will 

At these words, forced out like the death-rattle of 
the dying, the groan of paternal love reduced to im- 
potence, the sisters paused: what selfish souls could 
listen coldly to this cry of anguish that like a pebble 
flung into an abyss revealed its depths ? 

" I obtained them, my Father," said the countess, 
bursting into tears. " I sold that which did not belong 
to me." 

286 Pere Goriot. 

Delphine, too, seemed moved, and laid her head upon 
her sister's shoulder. 

" Then it was all true ?" she said. 

Anastasie bowed her head. Madame de Nucingen 
took her in her ai'ms and kissed her tenderly. 

" You will always be loved, not judged, by me," she 

" My angels ! " said their father in a feeble voice ; 
" alas ! that your union should come only through 

" To save Maxime's life, to save my own happiness," 
resumed the countess, comforted by these proofs of 
loving kindness, " I carried to that money-lender whom 
you know of that man born in hell, whom nothing 
moves to pity ; that Monsieur Gobseck the family 
diamonds, heir-looms treasured by Monsieur de Res- 
taud : his, my own, all, everything. I sold them. 
Sold them, do you understand ? I saved Maxime ; 
but I killed myself. Restaud knows all." 

" Who told him ? Who ? that I may strangle them ! " 
cried the old man passionately. 

" Yesterday my husband sent for me to his chamber. 
I went. ' Anastasie,' he said to me, in such a voice, 
oh, his voice was enough! I knew Avhat was com- 
ing, ' Where are your diamonds ? ' ' In my room,' I 
answered. ' No,' he said, looking full at me, ' they are 
there, on my bureau.' lie showed me the case, which 
he had covered with his handkerchief. 'You know 
where they have come from,' he said. I fell at his 
feet ; I wept ; I asked him what death he wished me 
to die " 

" Did you say that ? " cried Pere Goriot. " By all that 

Pere Goriot. 287 

is sacred, any one who blames or harms my children, 
while I live, may be sure that I " 

The words died in his throat, and he was silent. 

" And then, dear Father, he asked me to do some- 
thing harder than to die. Heaven preserve other 
women from hearing what he said to me ! " 

" I shall kill him," said Pere Goriot, slowly. " He has 
but one life, yet he owes me two. What followed ?" 

"He looked at me," she continued, after a pause, 
" and said, ' Anastasie, I will bury all in silence. I 
will not separate from you, there are children to be 
considered. I will not fight with Monsieur de Trailles, 
I might miss him. Human justice gives me the right 
to kill him in your arms ; but I will not dishonor the 
children. I spare you and your children, but I impose 
two conditions. Answer me. Are any of these chil- 
dren mine ? ' I said, ' Yes.' ' Which ? ' Ernest, our 
eldest.' 'It is well,' he said. 'Next, swear to obey 
me in future on one point.' I swore. 'You will sign 
over to me your property when I demand it?' " 

" Sign it not ! " cried Pore Goriot. " Never sign it ! 
Nasie, Nasie, he cares for his heir, his eldest. I will 
seize the child. Thunder of heaven ! he is mine as 
well as his ; he is my grandson. I will put him in my 
village where I was bora. I will care for him oh, 
yes, be sure of that ! I will make your husband yield. 
I will say to him, If you want your son, give me back 
my daughter j restore her property; leave her in 
peace " 

" Father ! " 

" Yes, thy father. I am thy true father. Let this 
great lord beware how he maltreats my daughter ! 

288 Pere Goriot. 

A fire is running through my veins ; I have the blood 
of a tiger in me ! Oh, my children, my children ! is 
this your life? it is my death. What will become of 
you when I am gone ? Why cannot a father live out 
the life of his child? Oh, my God, thy world is 
wrong! and yet thou art a father. Oh, Father in 
heaven ! why are we condemned to suffer through 
our children ? Ah, my angels, it is only your griefs 
that make you come to me, only your tears that you 
share with me ! Yes, yes, but that is love ; I know 
you love me. Come, both of you, come, pour your 
troubles into my heart : it is strong, it is large, it can 
hold them all. Yes, though you rend it into fragments, 
each fragment is a living heart, a father's heart. 
Could they but take your griefs and bear them for 
you ! Ah ! when you were my little ones I made you 

" We have never been happy since," said Delphine. 
" Where are those days when we slid down the sacks 
in the great granary ! " 

" Father, I have not told you all," whispered Anas- 
tasie to the old man, who started convulsively. " The 
diamonds did not bring a hundred thousand francs. 
They are still pursuing Maxime. We have twelve 
thousand francs more to pay. He has promised me to 
reform ; to give up gambling. All I have in the world 
is his affection ; and, oh, I have paid too terrible a 
price for it ! I cannot lose him now ! I have sacri- 
ficed honor, fortune, children, peace of mind for him. 
Oh, do something for me, that he may not be impris- 
oned, not driven from society ! I know he will yet 
make himself a position in the world. I have nothing 

P$re G-oriot. 289 

left to give him now. But we have children ; they 
must be provided for All will be lost if they put him 
in Sainte-Pelagie, a debtor's prison ! " 

"I have nothing nothing left, Nasie nothing! 
The world is at an end ; I feel it quaking, crumbling. 
Fly, fly ! save yourselves ! Stay ! I have still my 
silver buckles, and six forks and spoons, the first I ever 
owned. But I have no money, only my annuity ' 

"What have you done with your money in the 

"I sold it out, keeping a trifle for my wants. I 
wanted the rest, twelve thousand francs, to furnish 
some rooms for Fifine." 

" For you, Delphine?" cried Madame de Restaud. 

" Never mind, never mind," said Pere Goriot, " the 
twelve thousand francs are gone." 

" I guess where," said the countess, " to help Mon- 
sieur de Rastignac. Ah, my poor Delphiue, pause! 
see what I have come to." 

" My dear, Monsieur de Rastignac is a man incapa- 
ble of ruining the woman who loves him." 

" Thank you, Delphine. In the terrible position I 
am in, you might have spared me that. But you never 
loved me." 

" Ah, but- she does love you, Nasie ; she was saying 
so just now. We were speaking of you, and she said 
you were beautiful, but she was only pretty " 

" Pretty ! " cried the countess ; " her heart is stone- 

" And if it were ! " exclaimed Delphine, coloring, 
" how have you behaved to me ? You have dis- 
claimed me; you have shut against me the doors of 

290 Pere Goriot. 

houses where I longed to go ; you have never let slip 
an opportunity to give me pain. A cold heart ! Did 
I come like you, and squeeze out of our poor father, 
little by little, a thousand francs here, a thousand 
francs there, all he possessed ? Did I reduce him to 
the state he is now in ? This is your doing, my sister. 
I sa\v my father as often as I could. I never turned 
him out of doors, and then came and licked his hands 
when I had need of him. I did not even know that he 
was spending those twelve thousand francs forme. I 
at least have some decency and you know it. Papa 
may sometimes have made me presents, but I never 
begged for them " 

" You were better off than I. Monsieur de Marsay 
was rich, as you had good cause to know. You have 
always been despicable as to money. Adieu, I have 
no sister, no " 

" Hush, Nasie ! " cried Pere Goriot. 

" No one but a sister a sister like you would in- 
sinuate what the world itself does not believe. It is 
monstrous ! " cried Delphine. 

" My children ! my children ! hush, or you will 
kill me before your eyes " 

" I forgive you, Nasie," continued Madame de 
Nucingen, " for you are unhappy ; but I am better 
than you think of your saying that, just as I was 
making up my mind to do everything that I could for 
you. Well, it is worthy of all that you have done to 
me for the last nine years ! " 

" My children ! oh, my children ! Kiss each other, 
be friends," said the father. " You are two angels." 

" No, let me alone ! " cried the countess, whom 

Pere Goriot. 291 

Pere Goriot had taken by the arm; "she has less pity 
for me than my husband. An example of all the vir- 
tues, indeed ! " 

" I had rather be supposed to owe money to Mon- 
sieur de Marsay than to own that Monsieur de Trailles 
had cost me two hundred thousand francs," replied 
Madame de Nucingen. 

" Delphine ! " cried the ' countess, making a step 
towards her. 

" I say the truth ; but what you say of me is false," 
replied the other, coldly. 

" Delphine, you are a " 

Pere Goriot sprang forward and prevented the coun- 
tess from saying more by putting his hand over her 

" Good heavens, Papa ! what have you been touch- 
ing?" cried Anastasie. 

" Ah, yes, yes ! I ought not to have touched you," 
said the poor father, wiping his hand upon his trousers, 
" I did not know you were coming. I am moving 

He was glad to be able to draw upon himself a 
reproach that diverted the current of his daughter's 

"Ah!" he sighed, sitting down, "you break my 
heart. I am dying, children ; my head burns as if my 
skull were full of fire. Be kind to each other; love 
one another. You will kill me. Delphine ! Nasie ! 
you were both right, you were both wrong. Come, 
Dedel," he resumed, turning to Madame de Nucingen 
with his eyes full of tears, " she needs twelve thousand 
francs ; let us see how we can get them for her. Oh, 

292 Pere Goriot. 

my daughters, do not look at each other like that ! " 
He fell down on his knees before Delphine : " Ask her 
pardon for my sake," he whispered ; " she is more un- 
happy than you are." 

"My poor Nasie," said Delphine, frightened by the 
wild and maddened expression on her father's face, 
" I was wrong. Kiss me." 

"Ah, that is balm to my heart ! " cried the old man. 
"But the twelve thousand francs, how can we get 
them? I might offer myself for a substitute in the 
army " 

" Oh, Father ! " cried the daughters flinging their 
arms about him. " No ! " 

" God will bless you for that thought," cried Del- 
phine. " We are not worthy of it, are we, Nasie ? " 

"And besides, my poor Father, it would be but a 
drop in the bucket," observed the countess. 

" Will flesh and blood bring nothing? " cried the old 
man wildly. "I would give myself away to whoever 
would save thee, Nasie ; I would commit crimes for 
him ; I would go to the galleys, like Vautrin ; I " 
he stopped as if struck by a thunderbolt, and grasped 
his head. " Nothing more ! all gone ! " lie said. 
" No, I could steal if I knew where : it is hard to 
know where. Oh, there is nothing I can do but 
die ! Let me die ! I am good for nothing else. I am 
no longer a father : she appeals to me ; she needs my 
help, and I have none to give her ! Ah, wretch ! 
why did I buy that annuity ? I ! who have children ! 
Did I not love them ? Die, die ! like a dog, as I 
am. Yet the beasts love their young Oh, my 
head, my head ! it bursts ! " 

Pere Goriot. 293 

He sobbed convulsively. Eugene, horror-stricken, 
took up the note he had once signed for Vautrin, the 
stamp of which was for a much larger sum than that 
named on the face of it; he altered the figures, making 
it a note for twelve thousand francs payable to the order 
of Goriot, and went into the old mail's chamber. 

" Here is the sum you want, Madame," he said, giv- 
ing Madame de Restaud the paper. " I was asleep in 
my room, and was wakened by what you were saying. 
I learned for the first time what I owe to Monsieur 
Goriot. Here is a paper on which you will be able to 
raise the money. When it matures, I promise faith- 
fully that it shall be paid." 

The countess stood motionless, holding the paper. 
" Delphine," she said, pale, and trembling with anger, 
rage, and fury, " I take God to witness that I forgave 
you all oh ! but this ! "What ! Monsieur has been 
there, and you knew it ? You have had the meanness 
to feed your spite by letting him hear my secrets, 
mine, my children's, my shame, my dishonor! Go, 
you are a sister no longer! I hate you! I will harm 
you, if I can. I " 

Anger cut short her words ; her throat was parched 
and dry. 

"My child ! he is one of us; he is my son, your 
brother, our deliverer," cried Pere Goriot. " Kiss 
him, thank him, Nasie. See, I embrace him," he went 
on, clasping Eugene to his breast with a sort of fury. 
" Oh, my son ! " he cried, " I will be more than a father 
to thee. Nasie, Nasie ! bless him and thank him." 

" Don't speak to her, Father, she is out of her senses," 
said Delphine." 

294 Pere G-oriot. 

" Out of my senses ! And you ? what are you ? " 
cried Madame de Restaud. 

" Oh, my children ! I die if you continue," cried the 
old man, falling across his bed as if struck by a shot. 
" They are killing me," he said. 

The countess turned to Eugene, who stood motion- 
less, struck dumb by the violence of the scene before 

" Monsieur ? " she said, and her gesture, tone, and 
look were interrogative. She paid no attention to 
her father, whose waistcoat was being loosened by 

" Madame, I shall pay and keep silence," he said, 
answering her question before she asked it. 

" You have killed our father, Nasie," cried Delphine, 
pointing to the old man now senseless on the bed. 

Madame de Restaud left the room. 

" I forgive her," he said, opening his eyes ; " her 
position is dreadful, and would turn a wiser head. 
Console hei-, Delphine. Be good to her, promise 
your poor father, who is dying," he went on, pressing 
her hand. 

11 But what ails you ? " she said, much frightened. 

" Nothing, nothing," her father answered. " It will 
go off presently. I have a weight upon my fore- 
head ; a headache. Poor Nasie, what will become of 

At this moment Madame de Restaud returned and 
threw herself down beside her father. " Oh, forgive 
me ! " she cried. 

" Come, come," said Pere Goriot, " that hurts me 
more than anything." 

Pere Groriot. 295 

" Monsieur," said the countess, turning to Rastignac 
with tears in her eyes, " my troubles have made me 
unjust. You will be a brother to me?" she added, 
holding out her hand. 

" Nasie," said Delphine, "my little Nasie, let us for- 
get everything." 

"No," she said, " I shall remember." 

" My angels," said Fere Goriot, " you lift the cur- 
tain that was falling before my eyes. Your voices 
call me back to life. Let me see you kiss each 
other once more. Tell me, Nasie, will this note save 
you ? " 

" I hope so. But, Papa, will you indorse it ? " 

" Why, what a fool I was to forget that ! but I was 
ill. Nasie, don't be vexed with me. Let me know 
when you are out of your troubles. But, stay, I will 
go to you No, I will not go. I dare not see your 
husband. As to his doing what he pleases with your 
fortune, remember, I am here. Adieu, my child." 

Eugene stood stupefied. 

" Poor Anastasie ! she was always violent," said 
Madame de Nucingen ; "but she has a kind heart." 

" She came back for the indorsement," whispered 
Eugene in her ear. 

" Do you think so ? " 

" I wish I did not think it. Do not trust her," he 
added, lifting up his eyes, as if to confide a thought 
not to be put into words. 

" Yes, she was always acting a pnrt ; and my poor 
father was completely taken in by her." 

" How are you now, dear Pere Goriot ? " asked 
Rastignac, bending over the old man. 

296 Pre Goriot. 

" I feel like going to sleep," he answered. Eugene 
helped him to go to bed ; and after he had fallen asleep 
holding his daughter's hand, Delphine quietly left him. 

"To-night, at the opera," she said to Eugene, "you 
will bring me word how he is. To-morrow you will 
change your quarters, Monsieur. Let me peep into 
your room oh, what a horrid place ! it is worse 
than my father's. Eugene, you behaved beautifully ! 
I would love you more than ever for it if I could. 
But, my child, if you mean to get on in the world 
you must give up throwing twelve thousand franc- 
notes about in that way. Monsieur de Trailles is a 
gambler, though my sister will not admit it. He 
could have picked up that twelve thousand francs 
in the place where he has lost and won a mint of 
money. " 

A groan brought them hastily back to Pere Goriot. 
He was to all appearances asleep, but as they ap- 
proached they heard him say, " Not happy ; they are 
not happy ! " Whether he were asleep or awake, the 
tone in which he uttered the words struck so painfully 
to his daughter's heart that she leaned over the 
wretched bed on which her father lay and kissed him 
on his forehead. He opened his eyes and murmured, 
" Delphine ! " 

" How are you now? " she said. 

" Better. Do not worry about me. I shall get up 
presently. Go away, my children, and be happy." 

Eugene took Delphine home ; but not liking the con- 
dition in which they had left Pere Goriot, he refused 
to dine with her, and went back to the Maison Vau- 
quer. He found him better, and just sitting down to 

Pere Goriot. 297 

dinner. Bianchon had placed himself so that he could 
watch the old man unobserved. When he saw him 
take up his bread and smell it to judge the quality of 
the flour, the medical student, observing a total absence 
of all consciousness of the act, made a significant 

" Come and sit by me, graduate of the Cochin Hos- 
pital," said Eugene. 

Bianchon did as he was asked, all the more readily 
because it placed him nearer to the old man. 

" What is the matter with him ? " whispered 

" If I am not mistaken, he 's done for. Something 
out of the common must have excited him. He is 
threatened with apoplexy. The lower part of his face 
is calm enough, but the upper part is drawn and unnat- 
ural. The eyes have the peculiar expression which 
denotes pressure on the brain ; don't you notice that 
they are cove ed with a light film? To-morrow 
morning I shall be able to judge better." 

" Is there any cure for it ?" 

" None. Possibly we might retard his death if we 
could set up a reaction in the extremities ; but if the 
present symptoms continue, it will be all up with the 
poor old fellow before to-morrow night. Do you know 
what brought on his illness ? He must have had some 
great shock that his mind has sunk under." 

" Yes, he has," said Rastignac, remembering how 
the daughters had struck alternate blows at their 
father's heart. "But, at least," he said to himself, 
"Delphine loves her old father." 

298 Pere Groriot. 


THAT night, at the opera, Eugene took some precau- 
tions not to alarm Madame de Nucingen. 

" Oh, you need not be so anxious about him," she 
said, as soon as he began to tell her of the illness. 
" My father is very strong ; this morning we shook 
him a little, that is all. Our fortunes are in peril: do 
you realize the extent of that misfortune ? I could 
not survive it, if it were not that your affection makes 
me indifferent to what I should otherwise consider 
the greatest sorrow in the world. I have but one 
fear now, to lose the love which makes it happiness 
to live. All outside of that I have ceased to care for ; 
you are all in all to me. If I desire to keep my wealth, 
it is that I may better please you. I know that I can 
be more to a lover than to a father ; it is my nature. 
My father gave me a heart, but you have made it 
beat. The world may blame me, I do not care j 
you will acquit me of sins into which I am drawn by 
an irresistible attachment. You think me an unnatural 
daughter? No, I am not : who would not love a father 
kind as ours has been ? But how could I prevent his 
knowing the inevitable results of our deplorable mar- 
riages? Why did he not prevent them ? Was it not 
his duty to think and judge for us ? I know that he 
suffers now as much as we do ; but how can I help 

Pere Cf-oriot. 299 

that ? Ought we to make light of our troubles ? That 
would do no good. Our silence would have distressed 
him far more than our reproaches and complaints have 
injured him. There are some situations in life where 
every alternative is bitter." 

Eugene was silent, touched by this simple expression 
of native feeling. The clear judgment a woman shows 
in judging natural affections when a privileged affection 
separates and holds her at a distance from them, struck 
him forcibly. Madame de Nucingen was troubled by 
his silence. 

" What are you thinking of ? " she said. 

" Of what you have just said to me. Until now, I 
thought that I loved you more than you love me." 

She smiled, but checked the expression of her feel- 
ings, that she might keep the conversation within the 
conventional limits of propriety. 

" Eugene," she said, changing the conversation, " do 
you know what is going on in the world ? All Paris 
will be at Madame de Beauseant's to-morrow evening. 
The Rochefides and the Marquis d'Adjuda have agreed 
to keep the matter secret ; but it is certain that the 
king signs the marriage contract to-morrow morning, 
and that your poor cousin as yet knows nothing of it. 
She cannot put off her ball, and the marquis will not 
be there. All the world is talking of it." 

" Then the world is amusing itself with what is in- 
famous," cried Eugene, " and makes itself an accom- 
plice. Don't you know that it will kill Madame de 
Beauseant ?" 

"Oh, no, it will not," said Delphine, smiling; "yon 
don't understand that sort of woman. But all Paris 

300 Pre Croriot. 

will be at her ball, and I too, I shall be there! I 
owe this happiness to you." 

" Perhaps," said Rastignac, " it is only one of those 
unfounded rumors which are always flying about 

" We shall know to-morrow." 

Eugene did not go back to the Maison Vauquer. 
The pleasure of occupying his new rooms in the Rue 
d'Artois was a temptation too great to withstand. 
The next morning he slept late ; and towards midday 
Madame de Nucingen came to breakfast with him. 
Young people are so eager for these pretty enjoyments 
that he had well-nigh forgotten Pcre Goriot. It was 
like a delightful festival to make use of each elegant 
trifle that was now his own ; and the presence of 
Madame de Nucingen lent to them all an added 
charm. Nevertheless, about four o'clock they remem- 
bered the old man, and as they recalled the happiness 
he had shown at the thought of living there, Eugene 
remarked that they ought to get him there at once, 
especially if he were likely to be ill ; and he left 
Delphine to fetch him from the Maison Vauquer. 

Neither Goriot nor Bianchon were at the dinner- 

" Well," said the painter, " so Pere Goriot has broken 
down at last! Bianchon is upstairs with him. The 
old fellow saw one of his daughters this morning, 
that Countess de Restau-rama. After that he went 
out, and made himself worse. Society is about to be 
deprived of one of its brightest ornaments." 

Eugene rushed to the staircase. 

Pere G-oriot. 301 

" Here, Monsieur Eugene ! " 

" Monsieur Eugene ! Madame is calling you," cried 

" Monsieur," said the widow, " you and Pere Goriot 
were to have left on the 15th of February ; it is three 
days past that time, this is the 18th. I shall expect 
both of you to pay me a month's lodging ; but if you 
choose to be responsible for Pere Goriot, your word 
will be satisfactory." 

" Why so? Cannot you trust him ? " 

" Trust him ! If he were to go out of his mind 
or die, his daughters would not pay me a farthing; 
and all he will leave is not worth ten francs. He 
carried off the last of his forks and spoons this 
morning. I don't know why. He had dressed him- 
self up like a young man. Heaven forgive me, but I 
do think he had put rouge on his cheeks. He looked 
quite young again." 

"I will be responsible," cried Eugene, with a shud- 
der, foreseeing a catastrophe. 

He ran up to Pere Goriot's chamber. The old man 
was lying on his bed, with Bianchon beside him. 

" Good evening, Father," said Eugene. 

Pere Goriot smiled gently and said, turning his 
glassy eyes upon the student, "How is she?" 
" Quite well ; and you?" 

" Not very ill." 

" Don't tire him," said Bianchon, drawing Eugene 
apart into a comer of the room. 

" Well ? " asked Rastignac. 

" Nothing can save him but a miracle. The conges- 
tion I expected has taken place. I 've put on mustard 

302 Pere Goriot. 

plasters, and luckily they are drawing: he feels 

" Can he be moved ? " 

" Not possibly. You must leave him where he is, 
and he must be kept perfectly quiet, and free from 

"Dear Bianchon," said Eugene, "we will take care 
of him together." 

" I called in the surgeon-in-chief of my hospital." 

" What did he say ? " 

"He will give no opinion till to-morrow evening. 
He has promised to come in after he gets through his 
work for the day. It is quite certain that the old fel- 
low has been up to some imprudence ; but he won't 
tell me what. He is as obstinate as a mule. When I 
speak to him he either makes believe he does not hear, 
or that he has gone to sleep ; or if his eyes are open, 
he begins to groan. He went out this morning and 
walked all over Paris, nobody knows where. He 
carried off everything he owned of any value; he 
has been making some infernal sale of his things, 
and exhausting his strength. One of his daughters 
was here." 

" Ah ! " said Rastignac, " the countess ; a tall, dark 
woman, with fine eyes, a pretty foot, and graceful 
figure ? " 

" Yes." 

" Leave me a moment alone with him," said Eugene. 
" I can get him to tell me everything." 

" Well, then, I '11 go and get my dinner. Be careful 
not to agitate him. There is still some hope." 

" I '11 be careful." 

Pere Groriot. 303 

" They will enjoy themselves to-morrow," said Pere 
Goriot to Eugene as soon as they were alone. " They 
are going to a great ball." 

" What did you do this morning, Papa, to knock 
yourself up and have to go to bed ? " 

" Nothing." 

" Was Anastasie here ?" 

" Yes," replied Pere Goriot. 

" Well, then, don't keep any secrets from me. What 
did she ask you for this time?" 

" Ah ! " he replied, rallying his strength to speak. 
" Poor child ! she was in great trouble. Nasie has not 
a sou of her own since the affair of the diamonds. She 
had ordered for this ball a beautiful dress of gold tissue, 
which would set her off like a jewel. The dressmaker 
infamous creature! refused to trust her, and her 
maid paid a thousand francs on account poor Nasie ! 
that she should come to that! it breaks my heart ; 
but the maid, finding that Restaud had withdrawn all 
confidence from Nasie, was afraid of losing her money, 
so she arranged with the dressmaker not to deliver the 
dress till the thousand francs were paid. The ball is 
to-morrow; the dress is ready; Nasie is in despair. 
She wanted to borrow my forks and spoons and pawn 
them. Her husband insists that she shall go to the 
ball in order to show all Pai'is the diamonds she was 
said to have sold. Could she say to him, ' I owe a 
thousand francs; pay them for me'? No: I felt 
that myself. Her sister Delphine is to be there in a 
beautiful dress ; Anastasie ought not to be less brilliant 
than her younger sister, certainly not. Besides, she 
was drowned in tears, my poor little daughter ! I 

304 Pere G-oriot. 

was so mortified that I had not those twelve thousand 
francs yesterday ! I would have given the rest of my 
miserable life to make amends. You see, I have borne 
up till now against everything; but this last want of 
money has broken my heart. Well, well, I made no 
bones about it ; I patched myself up ; I tried to make 
myself look spruce, and I sold my forks and spoons 
and the buckles for six hundred francs. Then I made 
over my annuity for one year to old Gobseck for four 
hundred more. Bah ! I can live on dry bread : I did 
when I was young. So my Nasie will appear to- 
morrow evening. I have got the thousand francs under 
my pillow. It warms me up to feel them there under 
my head, and to know that they are going to give com- 
fort to my poor child. She is to come for them at ten 
o'clock to-morrow morning. I shall be quite well by 
that time. I don't want them to think me ill ; they 
might not like to go to the ball, they would wish to 
stay and nurse me. Nasie will kiss me to-morrow as 
if I were a baby. After all, I might have spent that 
money on the apothecary ; I 'd rather give it to my 
Cure-all, my Nasie. I can still comfort her in her 
troubles : that makes up in part for having sunk my 
money in an annuity. She is down in the very depths, 
and I have no strength to pull her up again ! I am 
going back into business ; I shall go to Odessa and 
buy wheat: wheat is worth three times as much with 
us as it costs there. The importation of cereals as raw 
material is forbidden ; but the good people who make 
the laws never thought of prohibiting manufactured 
articles of flour. Ha ! ha ! the idea came into my head 
this morning. I shall make millions out of my pastes." 

Pere Goriot. 305 

" He is losing his mind," thought Eugene, looking 
down upon the old man. " Come, now, lie still, and 
don't talk," he said. 

Rastignac went to dinner when Bianchon came up. 
Both passed the night taking turns beside the sick bed. 
One occupied himself in reading medical books, the 
other in writing to his mother and sisters. The next 
morning Bianchon thought the symptoms somewhat 
more favorable, but the patient needed the intelligent 
personal care which the two students alone could give 
him. Leeches were put on the emaciated body of the 
poor old man, and poultices ; mustard foot-baths were 
administered, and a number of medical devices resorted 
to which required all the strength of the two young 
men. Madame de Restaud did not come, but sent a 
messenger for the money. 

" I thought she would have come herself ; but per- 
haps it is best so, she might have been anxious," 
said her father, trying to make the best of his 

At seven o'clock in the evening Therese appeared, 
bringing a letter for Eugene : 

" What can you be doing, dear friend? Am I neglected as 
soon as loved ? You have shown me, in the outpourings of 
heart to heart, a soul so beautiful that I trust you as one of 
those forever faithful through many phases and shades of feel- 
ing. Do you remember what you said as we were listening 
to the prayer of Moses in Egypt ? ' To some it seems but a 
single note ; to others the infinite of music.' Do not forget that 
I expect you this evening to go with me to Madame de Beau- 
seant's. Monsieur d'Adjuda's marriage contract was signed by 
the king this morning, and the poor viscountess did not know 

306 Pere G-oriot. 

of it till two o'clock. All Paris will be at her house to-night ; 
just as a crowd flocks to the Place de Greve to see an execu- 
tion. Is it not horrible that people should go there to see if 
she can hide her grief, if she knows how to die ? I certainly 
would not go if I had been to her house before. But she will 
probably never receive again, and then all the efforts I have made 
to go there would be thrown away. My situation is different 
from that of others. And besides, I shall be there for your 
sake. If you do not come to me within two hours, I ana not 
sure that I shall pardon you for the crime." 

Eugene seized a pen and replied thus : 

" I am waiting for a doctor, who will say how long your 
father has to live. He is dying. I will come and tell you 
what the medical opinion is. I fear it can only be that he 
will not recover. You will judge whether you can go to the 
ball. Tender remembrances." 

The doctor came at half-past eight, and though he 
could hold out no hopes of improvement he thought 
death was not imminent. He said there would be 
changes to better or worse, and on these would hang 
the life and reason of the patient. 

" Far better that he should die," were his last words. 

Eugene consigned Pere Goriot to the care of Bian- 
chon, and went to Madame de Nucingen with the sad 
news, which to his mind, still imbued as it was with 
tender memories of his home, precluded all possibility 
of amusement for a daughter. 

" Tell her to go to the ball and enjoy herself all the 
same," said Pere 'Goriot, who they hoped was dozing, 
but who started up in bed when he saw that Rastignac 
was going. 

Pere G-oriot. 307 

The young man entered Delphine's presence with 
his heart full of grief and pity. He found her with 
her toilette made, her hair dressed, and nothing more 
to be done than to put on her ball-dress. But like an 
artist's final work upon his canvas, the finishing touches 
took more time than the picture itself. 

" What ! are you not dressed ? " she said. 

"But, Madame, your father is " 

" Why do you harp upon my father?" she cried, in- 
terrupting him. " You need not teach me my duty to 
my father. I have known my father for a long time. 
Not another word, Eugene ; I will not listen to you 
till you have made your toilette. Therese has laid out 
everything in your room. My carriage is at the door; 
take it, and come back as soon as possible. We can 
talk about my father as we are driving to the ball. I 
wish to start early, for if we are caught in the line of 
carriages it may be midnight before we get there." 

Madame ! " 

" Go, go ! not another word," she cried, running into 
her boudoir for a necklace. 

" Go, Monsieur Eugene go ! " said Therese, " or you 
will make Madame very angry." 

So saying, she pushed the young man, who stood dis- 
mayed and silenced by this elegant parricide. He went 
away and dressed himself, filled with melancholy and 
disheartening reflections. The world seemed to him 
like an ocean of slime, in which a man sank up to his 
throat if he so much as put his foot into it. 

" Its wickednesses are mean, are paltry," he cried. 
" Vautrin's crimes at least were great." 

He had now seen, by experience, the three great 

308 Pere Q-oriot. 

phases of society, Obedience, Struggle, and Revolt : 
Family-life, the World, and Vautrin. He dared not 
make his choice among them. Obedience had become 
to him stagnation ; revolt was impossible ; struggle 
false and uncertain. He thought of his home ; he re- 
membered the pure emotions of that peaceful life ; his 
mind went back to the years passed among the dear 
ones who fondly loved him. He said to himself that 
those who conformed in all things to the natural 
laws of family life were fully, perfectly, permanently 

But though he owned these things, he had not the 
courage to assert them to Delphine. Could he confess 
the faith of purity to her ? Could he talk to her of 
virtue in the guise of love ? His worldly training was 
already bearing fruit ; his love was selfishness. His 
instinct enabled him to sound the inner nature of 
Delphine: he believed her capable of going to this 
ball over the dead body of her father; but he had nei- 
ther the strength to oppose her by argument, nor the 
courage to displease her, nor the virtue to give her up. 
" She would never forgive me for being right where 
she was bent on doing wrong," was his reflection. 
Then he recalled the doctor's words. He persuaded 
himself that Pere Goriot was not so dangerously ill as 
he had thought; he multiplied heartless arguments 
that he might justify Delphine : she could not know 
her father's true condition ; the poor old man himself 
would send her to the ball if she went to see him. He 
reflected also that the laws of social life are absolute, 
and make no allowances for differences of character, or 
interests, or situations. He tried to deceive himself, 

Pre G-oriot, 309 

and find reasons to sacrifice his conscience to his mis- 
tress. For two days past everything within him and 
about him had changed. Woman had turned the cur- 
rent of his whole existence; home and its ties had 
paled before her influence; she had confiscated all 
things to her profit. 

"Tell me now, how is my father?" said Madame 
de Nucingen, when he came back dressed for the ball. 

" Very ill," he said. " If you would give me a proof 
of your affection, you would let me take you to him at 

" Well yes ; " she said ; " but it must be after the 
ball. Eugene, be good ; don't preach to me. Come ! 

They drove away. Eugene sat silent for a part of 
the way. 

"What are you thinking of?" she asked. 

" I am listening to the rattle in your father's throat," 
he answered in a tone of anger; and he began to relate, 
with the fiery eloquence of youth, the cruelty to which 
Madame de Restaud's vanity had pushed her, the last 
supreme act of their father's self-devotion, and the mor- 
tal cost of that golden robe in which Anastasie was 
now about to appear. Delphine wept. 

" But it will make me ugly ;" she thought and her 
tears dried at once. " I will go and nurse my father. 
I will stay beside his pillow," she said aloud. 

" Ah ! now, indeed, thou art all that I would have 
thee ! " cried Eugene. 

The lamps of five hundred carriages lighted the 
approach to the Hotel de Beauseant, and on either 
side of the illuminated gateway was a mounted gen- 
darme. The great world flocked thither in such crowds, 

310 Pere Goriot. 

eager to gaze on this great lady at the moment of her 
downfall, that the ball-rooms on the ground-floor of 
the Hotel were filled when Madame de Nucingen and 
Rastignac entered them. Since the famous occasion 
when a whole Court rushed to see la grande Made- 
moiselle, after Louis XIV. had torn her lover from her 
arms, no disaster of the heart had excited such intense 
interest as this of Madame de Beauseant. On this 
occasion the daughter of the semi-royal house of 
Burgundy rose superior to her woe, and swayed to 
her latest moment that world whose homage she had 
valued only as incense to be offered on the altar of 
her friend. The loveliest women in Paris adorned the 
rooms with their dresses and their smiles. The most 
distinguished men of the Court, ambassadors, minis- 
ters, heroes illustrious in a hundred ways, and covered 
with crosses, medals, and ribbons of all orders, pressed 
around their hostess. The great world had arrayed 
itself as if to make a last obeisance to its sovereign. 
The music of the orchestra floated in tender harmonies 
along the gilded ceilings of the palace now desolate 
for its queen. Madame de Beauseant stood within the 
doorway of the first salon, receiving those who called 
themselves her friends. Dressed in white, without an 
ornament, and with simply braided hair, she appeared 
calm, and exhibited neither grief nor pride, nor any 
pretence of joy. No one saw into her heart. She 
seemed a marble Niobe. The smiles she gave to her 
intimate friends had occasional gleams of irony; but 
to all present she appeared unchanged, and bore her- 
self so truly the same as when happiness shed its halo 
round her that the most unfeeling person in that crowd 

Pere Goriot. 311 

admired her, as the Roman youths admired the gladia- 
tors who smiled as they died. 

" I feared you might not come," said Madame de 
Beauseant to Rastignac. 

Taking her words for a reproach, he answered with 
emotion, "Madame, I have come to be the last to 
leave you." 

"That is well," she said, taking his hand. "You 
are perhaps the only person present whom I can trust. 
My friend, when you love, let it be a woman whom 
you can love forever. Never forsake a woman ! " 

She took Rastignac's arm, and led him to a sofa in 
the card-room. 

" Go for me," she said, " to the Marquis d'Adjuda. 
Jacques, my footman, will tell you where he is to be 
found, and will give you a note for him. It asks for 
my letters. He will give them up to you, I trust he 
will. If you obtain them, go up to my rooms on your 
return ; they will tell me when you are there." 

She rose and went forward to greet the Duchesse 
de Langeais, who was entering the salon. Rastignac 
did as he was told. He asked for the Marquis d'Ad- 
juda at the Hotel Rochefide, where he was to pass the 
evening, and found him. The Marquis took him to 
his own house, and gave him a casket, saying, " They 
are all there." He seemed to wish to say more ; per- 
haps to question Eugene about the viscountess, 
possibly to own himself already in despair about his 
marriage (as, in fact, he became soon after) ; but a ray 
of pride shone in his eyes, and he had the melancholy 
courage to triumph over his better feelings. "Tell 
her nothing about me, my dear Eugene," he said. He 

312 Pere G-oriot. 

pressed Rastignac's hand with a grasp of affection and 
regret, and made a sign that he should leave him. 

Eugene returned to the Hotel de Beauseant, and 
was shown up to his cousin's chamber, which was 
strewn with preparations for a journey. He sat down 
near the fire holding the cedar casket, and fell into a 
state of the deepest melancholy. For him, Madame 
de Beausdant took on the proportions of a goddess of 
the Iliad. 

" Ah ! my friend," she said, coming in and laying 
her hand upon his shoulder. 

He turned and saw her in tears. Pier eyes were 
raised, the hand upon his shoulder trembled, the other 
was lifted up. Suddenly she took the casket, put it 
on the fire, and watched it burn. 

"They are dancing they came early Death 
may keep me waiting long. Hush, dear friend," she 
said, laying her hand upon the lips of Rastignac as he 
was about to answer. "To-night I take my leave of 
Paris and the world. At five o'clock to-morrow morn- 
ing I go to bury myself in the solitude of Normandy. 
Since three o'clock to-day I have made my prepara- 
tions, signed papers, transacted business. I had no 
one I could send to " She paused. " It was cer- 
tain he would be at " She stopped again, overcome 
with emotion. At such times it is pain to speak ; 
certain words it is impossible to utter. " You see," 
she resumed, " that I counted upon you for this last 
service. I should like to give you a remembrance, 
something to make you think of me. I shall often 
think of you; you have seemed to me kind and noble, 
fresh and true, in this world where these qualities are 

Pre G-oriot. 313 

rare. See," she said, casting a glance about the room, 
"here is the box in which I have always kept my 
gloves. Every time that I took them from it for 
a ball, an opera I felt myself beautiful, for I was 
happy. I never opened it that I did not leave within 
it some smiling thought. Much of myself is in that 
box, much of a Madame de Beauseant, who is gone 
forever. Accept it. I will take care that it is carried 
to your rooms in the Rue d' Artois. Madame de 
Nucingen looks well to-night. Treat her tenderly. 
If we never meet again, dear friend, be sure that I 
shall pray for you, who have been very good to me. 
Let us go down now ; I would not have them think that 
I have wept. I have an eternity before me, where I 
shall be alone, where no one will ask whether I smile 
or weep. Let me give a last look round my chamber." 

She stopped, hid her eyes for a moment with her 
hand, then bathed them with cold water, and took the 
student's arm. " Let us go," she said. 

Rastignac had never in his life been so much moved 
as he now was by the grief thus nobly kept under con- 
trol. When they reached the ball-rooms, Madame de 
Beauseant made the circuit of her guests leaning on 
her cousin's arm, a last and thoughtful act of kind- 
ness bestowed by this gracious woman. He soon saw 
the two sisters, Madame de Restaud and Madame de 
Nucingen. The former was blazing in diamonds, 
which no doubt burned her as they blazed, conscious, 
as she was, that she was wearing them for the last 
time. Though she bore herself proudly and was ex- 
quisitely dressed, she seemed unable to meet the eye 
of her husband. This sight did not make Rastignac 

314 Pere Goriot. 

less bitter at heart. If Vautrin had appeared to him 
in the Italian colonel, he now saw through the glitter- 
ing diamonds of the two sisters the neglected death- 
bed of Pere Goriot. 

His depression was noticed by Madame de Beauseant, 
who attributed it to another cause, and released his 

" Go now," she said ; "I would not deprive you of a 

Eugene was soon claimed by Delphine, charmed 
with the sensation she had created, and anxious to 
lay at his feet the homage she was receiving from 
the great world, in which she now might hope for 

" What do you think of Nasie ? " she asked him. 

" She has discounted even her father's death," he 

About four in the morning the crowd began to 
thin, and presently the music censed. The Duchesse 
de Langeais and Rastignac at last stood alone in the 
great ball-room. The viscountess, expecting to find 
only Rastignac, came in after taking leave of Monsieur 
de Beauseant, who had gone to bed, saying, 

" Indeed you are wrong, my dear, to shut yourself 
up, at your age ! Why not remain among us ? " 

On seeing the duchess, Madame de Beauseant started 
and gave a little cry. 

" I guess what you are about to do, Clara," said 
Madame de Langeais. " You are going to leave us, 
and you will never return. But you shall not go 
without hearing what I have to say. We must not 
part misunderstanding each other." 

Pere Goriot. 315 

She took her friend by the arm and led her into 
a smaller salon. There, looking at her with tears in 
her eyes, she pressed her in her arms and kissed her 

" We must not part coldly, dear," she said ; " it 
would make me too unhappy. You may rely on me 
as you would upon yourself. You have been noble 
this evening : I feel that I am not unworthy of you, 
and I wish to prove it. I have not always treated 
you as I should have done : forgive me, dear. I take 
back every word that may have pained you, would 
that I could unsay them altogether ! We are passing 
through the same sorrow ; I know not which of us is 
the most unhappy. Monsieur de Montriveau was not 
here to-night : you know what that means. All who 
saw you at this ball, Clara, will never forget you. 
For myself, I shall make a last effort : if it fails, I 
shall go into a convent. And you? Where are you 

" To Normandy, to Courcelles : to love, to pray, 
till it shall please God to take me from the world." 
Then, with a break in her voice, Madame de Beau- 
seant called to Eugene, remembering that he was 
waiting for her in the great salon. 

He knelt beside her, and took her hand and kissed 

"Antoinette, adieu," she said; "be happy. Mon- 
sieur de Rastignac, you are happy, for you are 
young, and can still have faith. Here, where I re- 
nounce the world, I have beside me as some rare 
death-beds have had two hearts that feel for me 
with sacred and sincere affection." 

316 Pere Goriot. 

Rastignac left the house about five o'clock, having 
put Madame de Beauseant into her travelling-carriage 
and received her last farewells mingled with tears. 
He walked home to the Maison Vauquer in the damp 
dawn of a cold morning. He was making progress in 
his education. 

"We can't save poor old Goriot," said Bianchon, when 
Rastignac entered the room of his sick neighbor. 

" Bianchon," said Rastignac, looking down upon the 
old man, who lay asleep, " keep to the humble destiny 
to which you limit your ambition. For me, I am in 
hell, and I must stay there. Whatever evil they may 
tell you of the world, believe it. No Juvenal that 
ever lived could reveal the infamies concealed under 
its gold and jewels." 

Later in the day Rastignac was awakened by Bian- 
chon, who being obliged to go out, requested him to 
take charge of Pere Goriot, who had grown much 
worse during the morning. 

*' Poor old fellow! He can't live two days, per- 
haps not more than six hours," said the medical stu- 
dent ; " though of course we must do all we can for 
him. We shall have to try certain remedies that cost 
money. You and I can take care of him, but how 
are we to pay for the things ? I have n't a sou, myself. 
I have turned out his pockets and searched his cup- 
boards nothing ! absolutely zero ! I asked him in a 
lucid moment, and he told me he had not a farthing. 
How much have you ? " 

" I have only twenty francs," said Rastignac ; " but I 
will go and play them, and win more." 

Pere Goriot. 317 

" Suppose you lose ? " 

" Then I will ask money from his sons-in-law and 
his daughters." 

" And suppose they won't give it to you ? " said 
Bianchon. " However, the important thing now is 
not to get the money, but to wrap the poor fellow in 
hot mustard, from his feet up to the middle of his 
thighs. If he cries out, so much the better : it will 
show there 's a chance for him. You know how to 
manage it, and Christophe will help you. I will stop 
at the apothecary's and make myself responsible for 
the things we may want. What a pity he could not 
have been taken to the hospital ! He would have 
been much better off there. Come on, and let me 
give you the directions; and don't leave him till I 
get back." 

The two young men went into the room where the 
old man lay. Eugene was shocked by the great 
change that a few hours had made in the weak, 
blanched, and distorted features. 

" Well, Papa ! " he said, leaning over the bed. 

Pere Goriot raised his dim eyes and looked atten- 
tively at him, but did not recognize him. The student 
could not bear the sight, and turned away weeping. 

" Bianchon," he said, u ought there not to be curtains 
to his window?" 

" Oh, no ; atmospheric conditions can't affect him 
now. It would be a good sign if he felt either heat or 
cold. Still, we must keep up a little fire, to heat the 
mustard and prepare his drinks. I '11 send you some 
fagots, which will do till we can buy wood. Last 
night and yesterday I burned up yours, and the poor 

318 Pere Goriot. 

old fellow's bark as well. It was so dam]), and the 
walls were dripping with moisture. I could hardly 
keep the floor dry. Christophe swept it up, but it is 
as bad as a stable. I have been burning juniper, the 
room smelt so infernally." 

"Good God!" said Rastignac. "Think of his 
daughters ! " 

"Now, if he wants anything to drink, give him 
this," said the medical student, showing a large white 
pitcher. " If he complains of his stomach being hot 
and hard, call Christophe, and he will help you to give 
him you know. If he should get excited and insist 
on talking, or be a little out of his head, don't check 
him. It is not a bad symptom. But send Christophe 
at once to the hospital ; and cither the surgeon or my 
comrade and I will come and apply the actual cautery. 
This morning, while you were asleep, we had a great 
consultation here, between a pupil of Dr. Gall the 
phrenologist, the head-surgeon of the Hotel Dien, 
and our own chief from the Cochin Hospital. They 
thought there were some curious symptoms in the 
case ; and we are going to make notes on its progress, 
in hopes of throwing light on some important scientific 
points. One of the doctors thinks that if the pressure 
of the serum should be more upon one organ than upon 
any other, we may see some singular developments. 
So in case he should begin to talk, listen to what he 
says, and note what kind of ideas his mind runs on, 
whether memory is all he has left, or whether he still 
has his reasoning powers ; whether he is thinking of 
material things, or only of feelings; whether he is 
calculating as to the future, or only reverting to the 

Pere Goriot. 319 

past. In short, give us an exact report. It is possible 
that the invasion of the brain may be complete, all 
over it; in that case, he will die imbecile, as he is at 
this moment. The course of an illness like this is 
often very singular. If the rush were here," continued 
Bianchon, putting his finger upon the occiput, "the 
case might show some very remarkable phenomena. 
The brain might then recover some of its faculties, and 
death would be slow in coming. The matter that 
presses on the brain might then be absorbed through 
channels which we could only discover in the post- 
mortem. There is an old man now in the Hospital 
for Incurables, with whom the matter in question is 
slowly passing away down the spinal column. He 
suffers horribly, but he lives." 

"Did they enjoy themselves?" said Pere Goriot, 
who now recognized Eugene. 

" He thinks of nothing but his daughters," said 
Bianchon. He said to me over and over again during 
the night, ' they are dancing,' ' she has got her gown.' 
He called them by their names. He made me cry 
the devil take me ! by his piteous way of saying 
' Delphine ! my little Delphine ! Xasie ! ' Upon my 
word of honor," said the medical student, " it was 
enough to make any fellow shed tears." 

"Delphine?" said the old man. "Is she there? 
Did you say so?" And his eyes glanced wildly at 
the walls and doorway. 

" I '11 go and tell Sylvie to get the mustard," said 
Bianchon. " It is a good time now." 

320 Pere Goriot. 


RASTIGNAC remained alone with the old man, sitting 
at the foot of the bed, with his eyes fixed on the aged 
head now coming with sorrow to the grave. 

" Madame de Beauseant has fled," he said to him- 
self, " Pere Goriot dies : natures that have deep affec- 
tions cannot abide long in this evil world. How 
should noble minds live, allied to a society that is 
mean, petty, and superficial ? " 

Scenes of that splendid ball rose up in awful con- 
trast to this bed of death. Bianehon reappeared. 

" Look here, Eugene ! " he said. " I have just seen 
our surgeon-in-chief, and I have run back to tell you. 
If he should recover his reason, if he should talk, 
wrap him in mustard, from his neck half-way down 
his loins, and send somebody at once for me." 

" Dear Bianehon ! " said Eugene. 

" Oh, it 's a case of great scientific interest ! " 
exclaimed the medical student, with the fervor of a 

" Alas ! " cried Eugene ; " am I the only one to care 
for the poor old man out of affection ?" 

" You would not say that, if you had seen me this 
morning," said Bianehon, not offended. " The other 
doctors thought of him only as a case; but I thought 
also of the poor patient, my dear fellow." 

Pere Goriot. 321 

He went away, leaving his friend alone with the old 
man. Eugene dreaded a crisis, which was not long in 

" Ah ! is that you, my dear boy ? " asked Pere Goriot, 
recognizing Eugene. 

" Are you better ? " said the student, taking his 

" Yes ; my head was in a vice, but it is free now. 
Did you see my daughters ? Will they be here soon ? 
They will come as soon as they know that I am ill. I 
wish my room were clean. There was a young man 
here last night who burned up all my fuel." 

" I hear Christophe bringing up some wood which 
that young man has sent you." 

" Good, but who is to pay for the wood ? I have 
no money. I have given it all away, all ! I must 
come on charity. Was the dress of gold tissue 
very handsome? Ah, how I suffer! Thank you, 
Christophe, my good man. God will reward you; I 
have nothing now." 

"I will pay you and Sylvie handsomely for all you 
do," whispered Eugene to the Savoyard. 

" My daughters said they would be here, did they 
not, Christophe? Go to them again; I will give you 
a five-franc piece. Tell them that I am not very well ; 
that I should like to see them, to kiss them, before I 
die. But don't alarm them." 

Christophe went off on a sign from Rastignnc. 

" They will come," resumed the old man. "I know 

them. Dear, kind Delphine, if I die, what sorrow I 

shall cause her; and Nasie too. I don't want to die. 

To die, my good Eugene, is not to see them. There, 


322 Pere Goriot. 

where I am going, how lonely I shall be ! Hell, to a 
father, is to be without his children I have served 
my apprenticeship in it ever since they married. My 
heaven was in our home, Rue Jussienne. Tell me, 
if I go to heaven, can I come back in spirit and hover 
near them? I have heard of such things; are they 
true? I see them now, as they were in the Hue 
Jussienne. ' Good morning, Papa,' they used to say. 
I took them on my knee and played with them, a 
thousand little tricks: they caressed me so prettily. 
We used to breakfast together, to dine together. Ah, 
I was a father then ! I was happy in my children. 
They never reasoned then; they knew nothing of the 
world, they only loved me. Oh, my God ! why 
could I not have kept my little ones? I suffer 
my head! my head ! Forgive me, my children, but I 
am in such pain no, this must be anguish ; for you 
have hardened me to pain. If I could but hold them 
in my arms, I should not suffer so. Are they coming? 
Will they come ? Christophe is so stupid. I ought to 
have gone myself. You saw them at the ball. 
They did not know that I was ill, did they? they 
would not have danced, poor darlings. Oh ! I must 
not be ill, they need me : their fortunes are in dan- 
ger. Ah! to what husbands they are bound! Save 
me ! cure me ! Oh, I suffer, suffer ! I must be 
cured, for they need money, and I know where to make 
it. I am going to Odessa; I shall make my pastes 
there. I 'm shrewd : I shall make millions. Oh, 
I suffer too much ! too much ! " 

He was silent a few moments, and seemed to be 
rallying all his strength to bear the pain. 

Pere Goriot. 323 

" If they were here I would not complain," he said. 
" Why should I complain if they were here ? " 

He dozed off lightly. The sleep lasted some time. 
Christophe returned, and Rastignac, who thought Pere 
Goriot had fallen back into a stupor, let him give an 
account of his mission. 

" Monsieur," he said, " first of all, I went to find 
Madame la comtesse ; but I was told I could not 
speak with her because she was settling some business 
with her husband. I said that I must see somebody ; 
so Monsieur de Restaud came himself, and he talked 
just this way. He said : Well, if Monsieur Goriot is 
dying, it is the best thing he can do. I want Madame 
de Restaud to settle some very important business, and 
she can't go till it is finished.' He looked very angry, 
he did. I was just going away when Madame came 
through a side door into the antechamber and said to 
me, ' Christophe, tell my father that I am arranging 
important matters with my husband, and that I cannot 
leave at present ; but as soon as I can I will go to 
him.' As for Madame la baronne, that was another 
matter. I could n't see her, and I could n't get word 
to her. Her maid said, ' Madame did not get home 
from a ball till half-past four, and she 's asleep. If I 
wake her she will scold me. I will tell her that her 
father is worse when she rings her bell. It is always 
soon enough to tell bad news. ' I begged her and 
begged her ; but it was no use. Then I asked to see 
Monsieur de Nucingen, but he was out." 

" So neither of his daughters will come to him!" 
cried Rastignac. " I will write to both of them." 

" Neither ! " cried the old man, rising in his bed. 

324 Pere Goriot. 

" They are busy ; they sleep ; they will not come. I 
knew it. We must die, to know what our children 
are. Friend, never marry ; never have children. You 
give them life, they will give you death. You bring 
them into the world, they drive you out of it. No ! 
they will not come. I have known it these ten years. 
I have said it to myself, but I dared not believe it." 

Tears welled up to the red rims of his poor eyes, but 
they did not fall. 

" Ah, if I were rich ; if I had kept my fortune ; if 
I had not given them all, all, they would be here, 
they would lick my cheeks with kisses. I should live 
in a mansion ; I should have a fine chamber, servants, 
a fire. They would be all in tears, husbands and 
children. All would be mine. But now, nothing ; 
I have nothing. Money gives all things, even chil- 
dren. Oh, my money ! where is it ? If I had treas- 
ures to bequeath, they would nurse me, they would 
watch me. I should hear them ; I should see them. 
Ah, my son ! my only child ! I would rather be as I am, 
forsaken and destitute : if a poor creature is loved, he 
knows that love is true. But, no, no! if I were rich 
I should see them. My God ! who knows ? They have 
hearts of stone, both, both ! I loved them too well; 
they gave me no love in return. A father should 
always be rich ; he should curb his children like vicious 
horses. But I I was on my knees to them ! Ah, 
cruel hearts ! they fitly crown their conduct to me for 
ten years past. If you knew the tender care they took 
of me the first year of their marriage ! oh, I suffer 
a martyrdom of pain! I had just given eight hun- 
dred thousand francs to each, and neither they nor their 

Pere Goriot. 325 

husbands could be rude to me. They welcomed me. 
It was ' My good Papa,' ' My dear Papa.' My place 
was laid at their table ; I dined with their husbands ; I 
was treated with respect. Why ? Because I had said 
nothing of my affairs ; because a man who gives away 
a million and a half of francs must have something 
left to leave : he is a man to be thought of. And so 
they paid me attentions, but it was for my money. 
The world is not noble : I saw it all. They took me 
to the theatre in their carriages ; I went if I pleased to 
their parties. They called themselves my daughters ; 
they acknowledged me to be their father. Ah, I 
have my sight ; I saw through it all, nothing escaped 
me; it struck home and pierced my heart: I knew 
that all was a pretence. But the evil was without 
remedy. I was less at my ease dining with them than 
at the table downstairs. I was dull ; I could say 
nothing. These fashionable people whispered to my 
sons-in law, * Who is that, Monsieur? ' ' The papa 
with the money-bngs.' ' Ah, the devil ! ' they cried, and 
looked at me with the respect due to wealth. My 
head, my head ! I suffer, Eugene ! I suffer ! It is my 

He paused a moment, and then continued : " But it 
is nothing, nothing compared to the first look Anastasie 
gave me, to make me feel I had said an ignorant thing 
which mortified her. That look ! it bled me from 
every vein. I was ignorant ; yes, but one thing I 
knew too well, there was no place for me among 
the living. The next day I went to Delphine to con- 
sole me ; and there I did an awkward thing which 
made her angry. I went nearly out of my mind ; 

326 Pere Goriot. 

for eight days I was beside myself, not knowing 
what to do : I was afraid to go and see them, lest 
they should speak their mind to me. And so it came 
to pass that I was turned from their doors. My 
God! thou who hast known the sufferings and the 
misery I have endured ! who hast counted the stabs 
that I have received throughout the years which have 
changed and whitened and withered me ! why dost 
thou let me suffer so horribly to-day ? Have I not ex- 
piated the crime of loving them too well? they have 
punished it themselves ; they have tortured me with 
hot irons ! Ah, fathers are fools ! I loved them 
so well that I went back like a gambler to his play. 
My daughters were my vice, my mistresses. They 
wanted this and that, laces, jewels, their waiting- 
women told me ; and I gave that I might buy a wel- 
come. But all the same they tutored me about my 
behavior in their world : they let me see they were 
ashamed of me." 

His voice sank, then rose again : " Oh, I suffer ! 
The doctors ! where are they ? If they would split 
my head open with an axe, I should suffer less. 
Send for them, send for my daughters, Anastasie, 
Delphine ! I must see them! Send the gendarmes; 
use force ! Justice is on my side ; all is on my side, 
nature, laws! The nation will perish if fathers are 
trodden under foot ; society, the world, all rest 
upon fatherhood : they will crumble to nothing if 
children do not love their fathers. Oh, to see them ! 
to hear them ! no matter what they say to me ; their 
voices would calm me, my Delphine especially. 
But when they come, tell them not to look at me so 

Pere Goriot. 827 

coldly. Ah, my friend, my good Eugene ! do you 
know what it is to see the golden glance of love 
change to leaden gray ? Since that day, when their 
eyes no longer lightened up for me, my life has been 
an arctic winter ; grief has been my portion and I 
have eaten my fill of it. I have lived only to be in- 
sulted and humiliated. Yet I loved them so much 
that I swallowed the affronts each shameful pleasure 
cost me. A father hiding himself! waiting in the 
streets to see his child ! I have given them all my 
life : they will not give me one hour to-day. I thirst, 
I burn ! they will not come to ease my death, for 
I am dying ; I feel it. Do they know what it is to 
trample on the corpse of a father ? There is a God in 
heaven ; he will avenge us, whether we will or no. 
Oh, they will come ! Come, my darlings ! a kiss, 
a last kiss! the viaticum of your father. I go to 
God, and I will tell him you have been good to 
me ; I will plead for you, for you are innocent ; 
yes, Eugene, they are innocent. The fault was mine. 
I taught them to tread me underfoot. Divine justice 
sees the truth and will not condemn them. I abdi- 
cated my rights ; I neglected my duty ; I abased 
myself in their eyes. The noblest natures would be 
corrupted by such weakness. I am justly punished : 
my children were good, and I have spoiled them ; 
on my head be their sins. I alone am guilty ; but 
guilty through love. Their voices would still my 
heart. I hear them : they come ! They will 
come ; the law requires them to see their father 
die, the law is on my side. Write to them that 
I have millions to bequeath. It is true, upon my 

328 Pere Groriot. 

honor. I am going to Odessa to make Italian pastes. 
I know what I am about. It is a great project, 
millions to make, and no one has yet thought of it. 
Transportation does not injure pastes as it does wheat 
and flour. Yes, millions! you may say millions, 
avarice will bring them. Well, even so, I shall see 
them ! I want my daughters ; I made them ; they 
are mine!" he cried wildly, rising in his bed, his dis- 
hevelled white hair giving to his head a look of un- 
utterable menace. 

" Dear Pere Goriot, lie down again," said Eugene. 
"As soon as Bianchon comes back I will go myself and 
fetch them, if they do not come " 

" If they do not come ! " sobbed the old man ; " but 
I shall be dead! dead, in a rush of madness mad- 
ness! I feel it coming. At this moment I see my 
life. I am a dupe. They do not love me, they 
never loved me. If they have not come, it means 
that they will not come. The longer they delay, the 
less they will 1'esolve to give me this last joy. I know 
them. They have never divined my sorrows, nor my 
wants, nor my pains : why should they divine my 
death ? They have never even, entered into the secret 
of my tenderness for them. Yes, I see it all. I 
have so long plucked out my entrails for. their sakes 
that my sacrifices have ceased to be of value. Had 
they asked me to tear out my eyes, I should have an- 
swered, ' Take them ! ' I have been a fool. They 
thought all fathers were like me. But their own 
children will avenge me. Tell them it is for their 
interest to come here ; tell them to think of their own 
death-beds. Go, go ! tell them to come : not to come 

Pere Goriot. 329 

is parricide ! they have committed that already ; 
they have given me a death in life. Call out ! 
call out, as I do, ' Here, Nasie ! Here, Delphine ! 
Come to your father who has been so good to you, and 
who is dying ! ' Are they coming ? No ? Am I to 
die like a dog? This is my reward, abandoned, 
forsaken ! They are wicked, they are criminal. I 
hate them ! I curse them ! I will rise from my coffin 
to curse them again ! Friends, am I wrong ? They 
do wrong Oh, what am I saying ? Is Delphine 
there ? Delphine is good ; but Nasie is so unhappy ! 
And their money ! Oh, my God ! let me die ! I 
suffer so ! My head ! my head ! Cut it off, but leave 
me my heart ! " 

" Christophe ! go for Bianchon," cried Eugene, 
horror-stricken ; " and bring me a cabriolet I am 
going to fetch your daughters, dear Pere Goriot. I 
will bring them to you." 

" Yes, by force, by force ! Get the gendarmes, the 
troops," he cried. " Tell the Government, the public 
prosecutor, to send them. I will have them ! " 

" But you cursed them." 

"Who says I did?" answered the old man with 
amazement. "You know I love them : I adore them. 
I shall recover if I see them. Yes, go for them, my 
good friend, my dear son. You have been very kind 
to me. I wish I could thank you ; but I have nothing 
to give except the blessing of a dying man. You love 
your father and mother, I know you do," he con- 
tinued, pressing the student's hand in his failing grasp. 
" You feel what it is to die as I am dying, without 
my children. To be thirsty, and never to drink, that 

330 Pere Goriot. 

is how I have lived ten years. My sons-in-law have 
killed my daughters. I lost them when they married. 
Fathers ! petition the Chambers for a law against 
marriage. No more marriages ! they t:;ke our chil- 
dren from us, and we die desolate. Make a law 
for the death of fathers ! Oh, this is horrible, hor- 
rible ! Vengeance ! it is my sons-in-law who keep 
them away from me ! They assassinate me ! Death, 
or my daughters ! Ah, it is finished ! I die with- 
out them ! Fifine ! Nasie ! Fifine ! come ! 

" My good Pere Goriot ! be calm, be still, don't 

" Not to see them ! it is the agony of death." 

" You shall see them." 

" Shall I ? " cried the old man, wandering. " See 
them ? I am to see them, to hear their voices? I shall 
die happy. Well, yes, I don't ask to live; I don't 
wish it ; my troubles are too heavy. But, oh, to see 
them ! to touch their pretty dresses ! it isn't much 
to smell the fragrance ah ! put my hands upon their 
hair, will " 

He fell back heavily on his pillow, felled like an ox. 
His fingers wandered over the coverlet as if searching 
for his daughters' hair. " I bless them," he said, mak- 
ing an effort. " I bless " 

He sank unconscious. At this moment Bianchon 
came in. 

" I met Christophe," he said. " He is bringing you 
a carriage." Then he looked at the sick man and 
lifted his eye-lids. Both saw that the power of sight 
had gone. 

" He won't come out of this ; that is, I think not," 

Pere Goriot. 331 

said Bianchon. He felt the pulse, and laid his hand 
upon the old man's heart. " The machine is still run- 
ning, more 's the pity. He had better die." 

" Yes," said Rastignac. 

" What 's the matter with you ? You are as pale as 

" Bianchon ! I have been listening to such cries, 
such anguish ! There is a God. Oh, yes, there is a 
God ! and he has prepared for us a better world, or this 
earth would be foolishness. If it were not so tragic 
I could weep ; my whole being is wrenched." 

"Dear fellow! We shall want several things; 
where can we get the money 't " 

Rastignac drew out his watch. " Here, pawn this 
at once. I can't wait a moment. J hear Christophe. 
I have not a farthing; and shall have to pay the 
coachman when I get back." 

332 Pere Goriot. 


RASTIGNAC ran downstairs and started for the Rue 
du Helder to find Madame de Restaud. As he drove 
through the streets, his imagination, excited by the 
horrors he had witnessed, increased his indignation. 
When he reached the antechamber and asked for 
Madame de Restaud, the servants told him she could 
see no one. 

" But," he said to the footman, " I come from her 
father, who is dying." 

" Monsieur, we have the strictest orders from Mon- 
sieur le cotnte 

" If Monsieur de Restaud is at home, tell him the 
condition of his father-in-law, and say that I beg to 
see him immediately." 

Eugene waited a long time. " He may be dying at 
this moment," he thought. 

The footman came back and showed him into the 
outer salon, where Monsieur de Restaud received him 
standing, without asking him to sit down, and with 
his back to a fire-place where there was no fire. 

" Monsieur le comte," said Rastignac, " your father- 
in-law is dying at this moment in a wretched lodging, 
without a farthing even to buy fuel. He is about to 
draw his last breath, and is asking for his daughter." 

"Monsieur," replied the Comte de Restaud, coldly, 
" you are doubtless aware that I have very little 

Pere Groriot. 333 

affection for Monsieur Goriot. He has compromised 
himself by unseemly transactions with Madame de 
Restaud ; he is the author of the chief misfortunes of 
my life ; in him I see the enemy of my domestic hap- 
piness. I cannot care whether he lives or dies ; to 
me it is perfectly indifferent. Such are my feelings 
concerning him. The world may blame me, I de- 
spise its opinion ; I have matters of far more impor- 
tance to think of than the opinion of fools or third 
parties. As for Madame de Kestaud, she is in no con- 
dition to leave her own house ; nor do I wish her to 
leave it. You may tell her father that as soon as she 
has fulfilled the duty she owes to me and to my child, 
she may go to him. If she loves her father, she can 
be free to go in a few moments." 

"Monsieur le comte, it is not for me to pass judg- 
ment on your conduct ; you have the right to deal with 
your wife as you think best : but I am sure that I can 
rely upon your word. Will you promise to tell her 
that her father cannot live another day, and that he 
has already cursed her because she has not come to 
him ? " 

" Tell her yourself," said Monsieur de Restaud, 
struck by the tone of indignation with which Ras- 
tignac uttered these words. 

Eugene followed the count into the inner room 
where Madame de Restaud usually sat. They found 
her bathed in tears, lying back in her chair like a 
woman who longed to die. Eugene pitied her. Before 
noticing him, she turned a timid look upon her hus- 
band, a look which showed how completely she was 
prostrated, mentally and physically, by the power he 

334 P$re Groriot* 

now wielded over her. The count made a sign with his 
head, which she took as a permission to speak. 

" Monsieur, I have heard all," she said. " Tell my 
father that if he knew my situation he would forgive 
me. I did not expect this additional misery : it is 
more than I have strength to bear. But I will resist 
to the last," she continued, turning to her husband : " I 
am a mother. Tell rny father I am not to blame, in 
spite of appearances," she added, with an accent of 

Rastignac bowed to husband and wife. He could 
guess through what a trial the woman was passing, 
and he went away silenced. From Monsieur de Res- 
taud's tone, he saw that remonstrances were useless ; 
and he judged that Anastasie herself would not dare 
to make them. 

He hastened to Madame de Nucingen. 

" I am quite unwell, my poor friend," she said, as 
he entered. " I took cold coming away from the ball, 
and I am afraid it may settle on my lungs. I am ex- 
pecting the doctor 

" If death were on your lips," said Eugene, interrupt- 
ing her, "you should drag yourself to your father's 
bedside. He is dying, and he calls for you. If you 
heard but the least of his cries, you would not fancy 
yourself ill." 

"Eugene, perhaps my father is not as ill as you 
think. But I should be in despair if you thought me 
to blame. I will try to please you. He, I know, 
would be filled with grief if my illness were made 
serious by the imprudence of going out to-day. But 
I will go, after I have seen the doctor. Ah ! what 

Pere Groriot. 335 

have you done with your watch ? " she cried, observ- 
ing that he did not wear the chain. 

Eugene hesitated. 

" Eugene ! Eugene ! if you have sold it, or lost it 
oh ! it would be very " 

Rastignac leaned over her and said, in a low voice, 
" Do you wish me to tell you ? Well, know it, then ! 
Your father has not money to buy the winding-sheet 
in which they will wrap him this evening. Your 
watch is in pawn : I had nothing else. 

Delphine sprang up and ran to her writing-table, 
from which she took her purse and gave it to Ras- 
tignac. She rang her bell and cried, " I am coming, 
I am coming, Eugene ! Let me get dressed. Oh, I 
should be a monster not to go ! Go back ; I will be 
there before you. Therese," she said, turning to her 
waiting-maid, " ask Monsieur de Nucingen to come up 
at once and speak to me." 

Eugene, glad to comfort the dying man with the 
news that one of his daughters was coming, reached 
the Rue Neuve Sainte-Genevieve almost in good spirits. 
When he paid his coachman, he discovered that the 
purse of this wealthy, elegant, and envied woman con- 
tained sixty-six francs ! Pere Goriot, supported by 
Bianchon, was being operated upon by the hospital 
surgeon, under the superintendence of the chief phy- 
sician. They were applying the actual cautery, 
a last resource of science, but in this case wholly 

" Can you feel it ? " asked the physician. 

Pere Goriot, seeing the student enter the room, cried 
out, " Are they coming ? " 

336 Pere Goriot. 

" He may pull through," said the surgeon. " He 
can speak." 

"Yes," replied Eugene ; " Delphine is on her way." 

" It won't do," said Bianchon ; " he is only talking of 
his daughters. He cries after them as a man impaled 
cries, they say, for water." 

" We may as well give it up," said the physician to 
the surgeon. " There is nothing more to be done ; we 
cannot save him." 

Bianchon and the surgeon replaced the dying man 
upon his wretched bed. 

" You had better change the linen," said the physi- 
cian. "There is no hope; but something is always 
due to human nature. I will come back, Bianchon," 
he said to his pupil. " If he seems to suffer, put lau- 
danum on the diaphragm." 

The surgeon and physician went away. 

" Come, Eugene, courage, my lad ! " said Bianchon 
when they were left alone. "We must put on a clean 
shirt, and change the bed. Go down and ask Sylvie to 
bring up some sheets and stop and help us." 

Eugene went down and found Madame Vauquer 
helping Sylvie to set the dinner-table. At his first 
words the widow came up to him with the sour civility 
of a shopkeeper doubtful about the payment, yet un- 
willing to lose a customer. 

" My dear Monsieur Eugene," she said, " you know 
as well as I do that Pere Goriot has not a sou. To 
furnish sheets to a man just giving up the ghost is 
throwing them away, one of them at least must be 
sacrificed for the winding-sheet. Besides this, you owe 
me one hundred and forty-four francs ; add forty francs 

Pre Croriot. 337 

for the sheets and some other little things, including the 
candles, which Sylvie will give you, and it mounts 
up to not less than two hundred francs ; a sum which a 
poor widow like me cannot afford to lose. Come ! do 
me justice, Monsieur Eugene. I have lost enough the 
last few days since ill-luck got hold of me. I would 
have given five louis if the old man had gone away 
when he gave notice. My lodgers don't like this sort 
of thing. It would not take much to make me even 
now send him off to the hospital. Put yourself in my 
place. My establishment is the chief thing to me, of 
course. It is my support, my all." 

Eugene ran up swiftly to Pere Goriot's chamber. 
" The money for the watch, Bianchon, where is it ?" 

"On the table. You will find three hundred and 
sixty-odd francs left. I have paid all we owe. The 
pawn ticket is under the money." 

" Here Madame," said Rastignac, rushing headlong 
down the staircase, " let us settle our accounts. Mon- 
sieur Goriot will not long be with you, and I " 

" Yes, he will go out feet foremost, poor old man," 
she said, counting up her two hundred francs with an 
air of complacent melancholy. 

" Let us make an end of this," cried Rastignac. 

" Sylvie, give out the sheets, and go and help the 
gentlemen upstairs. You will not forget Sylvie," 
whispered Madame Vauquer to Eugene. " She has 
sat up two nights, you know." 

As soon as Eugene's back was turned, the old woman 
ran after her cook. " Take the sheets that have been 
turned, Sylvie, No. 7. Good enough for a corpse," 
she whispered. 


338 Pere Goriot. 

Eugene being already half way up the stairs did not 
hear his landlady's words. 

" Now, then," said Bianchon, " we will change his 
shirt. Hold him up." 

Eugene went to the head of the bed and supported 
Pere Goriot, while Bianchon drew off his shirt. The 
old man made a gesture as if to grasp something on 
his breast, uttering plaintive inarticulate cries, like an 
animal in pain. 

" Oh ! oh ! " said Bianchon, " he wants a little hair- 
chain and locket which we took off when we applied 
the fire. Poor old man ! Put it around his neck 
again; it is on the chimney-piece." 

Eugene took up the little chain, made of a tress of 
chestnut hair, which was doubtless Madame Goriot's. 
Attached to it was a locket, with the names " Anas- 
tasie " on one side and " Delphine " on the other ; fit 
emblem of his constant heart, it lay upon that heart 
continually. The curls in the locket were so fine that 
they must have been cut off when the little girls were 
infants. As Eugene replaced the trinket on his breast 
the old man gave a long-drawn sigh of relief, heart- 
breaking to hear. It was well-nigh the final echo of his 
living emotions, as they drew in to the unknown centre 
from which spring and to which return our human sym- 
pathies. His face, much distorted, wore an unnatural 
expression of joy. The two young men, deeply moved 
by this sudden explosion of a feeling which had out- 
lived the power of thought, let fall hot tears, which 
touched the face of the dying man. He uttered a 
piercing cry of pleasure. 

" Nasie ! Fifine ! " he exclaimed. 

Pere Goriot. 339 

" He is still living," said Bianchon. 

" What 's the use of that ? " said Sylvie. 

" To suffer," replied Rastignac. 

Making Eugene a sign to do as he did, Bianchon 
knelt down beside the bed to pass his arms beneath the 
sick man's knees, while Rastignac on the other side did 
the same, supporting the shoulders. Sylvie stood by 
to draw the sheet as the weight was raised, and slip 
through one of those she had brought up with her. 
Misled no doubt by the tears that he had felt upon his 
face, Pere Goriot used his last strength to stretch out 
his hands on either side of the bed and grasped the 
hair of the two students, muttering feebly, " Ah, my 
angels ! " two words sighed forth by the spirit as it 
took its flight. 

" Poor, dear man ! " said Sylvie, much affected by this 
exclamation, the utterance of the ever-dominant pas- 
sion drawn forth by an involuntary deception. The 
last conscious sigh of the unhappy father was a sigh of 
joy. It expressed his whole life, delusion ; deluded 
even in death ! They laid him gently back upon the 
wretched pallet, and from that moment his face showed 
only fluctuations between life and death, the move- 
ments of the machinery no longer guided by the brain, 
in which alone resides the consciousness of human joy 
and misery. 

" He will lie as he is for some hours, and die so qui- 
etly that no one will perceive when the end comes. 
There will be no rattle in his throat. His brain has 
ceased to act," said Bianchon. 

At this moment they heard the rapid footsteps of a 
young woman. 

340 Pere Goriot. 

"It is Delphine," said Rastignac; "she comes too 

It was not Delphine, but Therese, her waiting- 

" Monsieur Eugene," she said, " there has been an 
angry scene between Monsieur and Madame, about 
some money Madame asked for, for her father. She 
fainted away ; the doctor came and bled her. She kept 
saying, ' Papa is dying, I must go to him ! ' Her cries 
were enough to break one's heart." 

" That will do, Therese. Her coming would be su- 
perfluous now. Monsieur Goriot has lost conscious- 

" Poor, dear Monsieur ! is he so bad as that ? " said 

" You don't want me any more; I must go and see 
after my dinner. It is half-past five now," said Sylvie, 
who as she went downstairs nearly fell over Madame 
de Restaud. 

The countess glided into the death-chamber like an 
apparition. She gazed at the bed by the light of the 
one poor candle, and shed tears as she looked down 
upon' the face of her dying father, where the last flicker- 
ings of life still quivered. Bianchon left the room, out 
of respect for her feelings. 

" I could not escape soon enough," she said to 

The student sadly shook his head to imply that this 
was time. Madame de Restaud took her father's hand 
and kissed it. 

" Forgive me, oh, my Father ! " she exclaimed. " You 
used to say that my voice would call you from the 

Pre G-oriot. 341 

tomb. Come back to life one moment to bless your 
repentant daughter! Oh, hear me ! This is dread- 
ful! Your blessing is the only one I can hope for 
here below. All hate me; you alone in this wide 
world can love me. My children will abhor me. Oh, 
take me with you ! I will love you ; I will wait upon 
you He does not hear me. I am mad " 

She fell upon her knees, gazing at the wreck before 

" My cup of misery is full," she cried, looking up at 
Eugene. " Monsieur de Trailles has gone, leaving enor- 
mous debts behind him, and I now know that he 
deceived me all along. My husband can never forgive 
me ; I have made over to him the disposal of my for- 
tune ; my children are destitute. Alas ! for what, for 
whom, have I betrayed the only faithful heart that 
loved me ? I did not understand him ; I cast him off ; 
I did so many cruel things to him Oh, wicked 
woman that I am ! " 

" He knew it," said Rastignac. 

At that moment Pere Goriot opened his eyes ; but 
the movement was only convulsive and involuntary. 
The gesture by which his daughter showed her hope 
of recognition was not less terrible to witness than his 
dull, dying eyes. 

" Can he not hear me ? " she cried. " Ah, no ! " she 
added after a pause, sitting down beside the bed. 

As she expressed the wish to watch him, Eugene 
went downstairs to take some food. The guests 
were all assembled in the salon. 

" Well," said the painter, " so we are to have a little 
death-orama upstairs ? " 

342 Pere G-oriot. 

"Charles," said Eugene, "choose some less melan- 
choly subject to joke upon." 

" Dear me ! is it forbidden to laugh under this roof ? 
What does it matter? Bianchon says the old fellow 
has lost his senses." 

" If that is so," said the employe, " he will die as he 

" My father is dead ! " shrieked Madame de Restaud. 
Rastignac and Bianchon ran upstairs, where they found 
her fainting on the floor. After bringing her back 
to consciousness, Eugene took her down to the hack- 
ney coach in which she had come, and consigned her 
to Therese, with orders to take her to Madame de 

"Yes, he is quite dead," said Bianchon, coming down 

" Come, gentlemen, sit down to table," said Madame 
Vauquer. " The soup is getting cold." 

The two students took their places by each other. 

"What is to be done next?" said Eugene to 

"I have closed his eyes, and composed him properly. 
When the doctor from the Mayor's office has certified 
to the death, which we will report at once, he will be 
sewn up in a sheet and buried. Where do you mean 
to put him?" 

" He will never sniff his bread any more, like this," 
said one of the guests, mimicking the trick of the poor 
old man. 

" The devil ! gentlemen," cried the tutor, " do leave 
Pere Goriot alone. We don't want any more of him. 
You have served him up with every kind of sauce for 

Pere, Gioriot. 343 

the last hour. One of the privileges of this good city 
of Paris is that you can come into the world, live in 
it and go out of it, and nobody will pay any atten- 
tion to you. Avail yourselves of the advantages of 
civilization. According to statistics, sixty persons 
have died in Paris this very day. Are we called 
upon to weep over Parisian hecatombs? If Pere 
Goriot is dead, so much the better for him. If you 
were all so fond of him, you can go and keep watch 
beside him ; but leave the rest of us to eat our dinners 
in peace." 

" Oh, yes," said the widow. " It is much better for 
him that he is dead. It seems the poor man has had 
plenty of troubles all his life long." 

This was the only funeral oration pronounced over a 
being who in the eyes of Rastignac was the incarna- 
tion of Fatherhood. 

The fifteen guests began to talk about other things. 
"When Eugene and Bianchon had finished eating, the 
clatter of knives and forks, the laughter, the jests, the 
various expressions on the callous, greedy faces round 
the table struck them with horror. They went in 
search of a priest to watch and pray during the night 
beside the dead. It was necessary to calculate the 
last duties they could render to their poor old friend 
by the slender sum they had to spend. About nine 
o'clock in the evening the body was placed on a 
bier between two tallow candles, in the centre of the 
wretched chamber ; and a pi-iest came to watch beside 
it. Before going to bed, Rastignac, who had obtained 
information from the ecclesiastic as to burial fees and 
the cost of funeral rites, wrote to the Baron de Nucin- 

344 Pere Goriot. 

gen and the Comte de Restaud, asking them to send 
their men of business with orders to provide for a 
suitable interment. He sent Christophe with these 
notes, and then went to his own bed and slept, worn 
out with fatigue. 

The next morning Bianchon and Rastignac were 
forced to go themselves and declare the death, which 
was certified to officially by midday. Two hours 
passed ; neither of the sons-in-law sent money, nor 
did any one appear who was authorized to act in their 
names. Rastignac had already been obliged to pay 
the priest, and Sylvie having demanded ten francs for 
sewing the corpse in its winding-sheet, Rastignac and 
Bianchon came to the conclusion that as the relatives 
would do nothing, they had barely enough money to 
provide the cheapest funeral. The medical student 
undertook to place the body himself in a pauper's cof- 
fin, which he sent from the hospital, where he could 
buy it for less cost than elsewhere. 

"Play a trick upon those people, they deserve 
it," he said to Rastignac. '-'Buy a grave for five 
years in Pere-La-Chaise, and order a third-class fu- 
neral service at the Church, and from the Pompes- 
Funebres, and send the bills to the family. If the 
sons-in-law and the daughters don't choose to pay it, 
we will have engraved upon his tombstone, ' Here lies 
Monsieur Goriot, father of the Comtesse de Restaud 
and the Baronne de Nucingen. Buried at the expense 
of two students.' " 

Eugene did not take his friend's advice until he 
had been, but in vain, to Monsieur and Madame de 
Nucingen's house and to Monsieur and Madame de 

Pere Goriot. 345 

Restaud's. He could not gain admittance. Both 
porters had strict orders. 

" Monsieur and Madame," they said, " receive no 
one : they are in deep affliction, owing to the death of 
their father." 

Eugene had had enough experience of Parisian life 
to know that it was useless to persist further. He was 
greatly wounded when he found that he could not see 
Delphine. " Sell a necklace," he wrote in the porter's 
lodge, " that your father may be decently consigned to 
his last resting-place." 

He sealed the note, and begged the porter to give it 
to Therese for her mistress; but the man gave it to 
the Baron de Nucingen, who put it in the fire. 

Having made all his arrangements, Eugene came 
back a little after three o'clock to the Maison Vauquer, 
and could not help shedding tears when he saw the 
bier at the iron gate, scantily covered with black cloth 
and placed upon two chairs in the lonely street. An 
old holy-water sprinkler, which no hand had yet 
touched, lay beside it in a plated copper vessel full 
of holy water. The gateway was not even hung 
with black. It was a pauper funeral, no pomp, no 
attendants, no friends, no relatives. Bianchon, whose 
duties kept him at the Hospital, had left a note for 
Rastignac to let him know what arrangements he had 
made for the Church services. He told him that a 
Mass could not be had for the sum they were able to 
pay ; that they must put up with a less costly service 
at vespers ; and that he had sent Christophe to notify 
the Pompes-Funebres. 

346 Pere Goriot. 

As Rastignac finished reading Bianchon's scrawl, he 
saw in Madame Vauquer's hands the gold locket which 
had lain upon the old man's heart. , 

" How dared you take that ? " he said to her. 

" Bless me ! " cried Sylvie, " did you mean to bury 
him with that ? Why, it 's gold." 

" Yes," answered Eugene indignantly. '-' Let him at 
least take with him to the grave the only thing that 
represents his daughters." 

When the hearse came, Eugene ordered the coffin 
to be taken back into the house, where he unscrewed 
the nails, and reverently placed upon the old man's 
heart that relic of the days when Delphine and Anas- 
tasie had been young and pure, and " did not reason," 
as he had said in his dying moments. 

Rastignac and Christophe and two of the under- 
taker's men were all who accompanied the hearse 
which carried the poor man to the nearest church, 
Saint-Etienne du Mont, not far from the Rue Neuve 
Sainte-Genevieve. There the corpse was placed in 
a little chapel, low and dark, round which the student 
looked in vain for the daughters of Pere Goriot or their 
husbands. He was alone with Christophe, who thought 
himself under an obligation to pay the last duties to a 
man who had been the means of procui-ing for him 
many large pour-boires. While waiting for the two 
officiating priests, the choir-boy, and the beadle, Rastig- 
nac pressed Christophe's hand, but could not speak. 

" Yes, Monsieur Eugene," said Christophe, " he was 
a good and honest man ; he never said an angry word ; 
he never tried to injure any one ; he never did an un- 
kind thing." 

P$re Goriot. 347 

The two priests, the acolyte, and the beadle came 
and gave all that could be had for seventy francs in an 
epoch when religion is too poor to pray for nothing. 
The clergy sang a psalm, the Libera, and the De 
profundis. The service lasted twenty minutes. There 
was only one mourning-coach, intended for the priest 
and the choir-boy ; but they allowed Rastignac and 
Christophe to go with them. 

" As there is no procession," said the priest, " we can 
go fast, so as not to be late. It is half-past five now." 

However, just as the coffin was replaced in the 
hearse two carriages with armorial bearings, but empty 
(those of the Comte de Restaud and the Baron de Nu- 
cingen), made their appearance and followed the funeral 
to Pere-La-Chaise. At six o'clock the body of Pere 
Goriot was lowered into its grave, round which stood 
the footmen of his daughters, who disappeared with 
the clergy as soon as a short prayer all that could 
be given for the student's money was over. "When 
the two grave-diggers had thrown a few shovelsful of 
earth upon the coffin they came out of the grave, and 
turning to Rastignac asked him for their drink-money. 
Eugene felt in his pockets, but nothing was there. He 
had to borrow a franc from Christophe. This cir- 
cumstance, trivial in itself, produced in his mind a 
horrible depression. Day was departing ; a damp mist 
irritated his nerves. He looked down into the grave 
and buried there the last tear of his young manhood, 
a last tear springing from the sacred emotions of a pure 
heart, which from the earth on which it fell exhaled to 
heaven. He folded his arms and stood gazing upward 
at the clouds. Seeing him thus, Christophe went away. 

348 Pere Croriot. 

Left alone, Rastignac walked a few steps until he 
reached the highest part of the cemetery, and saw 
Paris as it lies along the winding shores of the Seine. 
Lights were beginning to glitter in the gathering dark- 
ness. His eyes turned eagerly to the space between 
the column of the Place Vendome and the dome of the 
Invalides. There lived that world of fashion which 
it had been his dream to enter. He gave the hum- 
ming hive a look that seemed to suck it of its honey, 
and then he cried aloud, " War ! war between us, 
henceforth ! " 

And as a first act of hostility to Society, Rastignac 
went to dine with Madame de Nucingen. 

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